By Philips Sunday
Abuja, (AN24) – The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, today, Thursday, August 4, 2016, quashed the Appeal brought before it by late Prince Audu’s running mate in 2015 Kogi state governorship election, James Faleke, challenging the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello, as winner of the election.
Recall when Prince Audu died at the conclusion of the first round of the Kogi state gubernatorial election held on November 21, 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) replaced the deceased with Bello as its governorship candidate and retained Faleke as its deputy, a decision which did not go well with Faleke.
It would also be recalled on December 6, 2015 after the conclusion of the supplementary election which took place in 91 polling units in the state, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Mr. Bello as the winner of the election.
With this, Mr. Faleke headed to the Kogi state election Tribunal to challenge the decision of the electoral umpire, but he lost as the Tribunal affirmed Mr. Bello as the duly elected governor following the November 21, 2015 election and the December 6, 2015 supplementary poll in a judgment delivered on June 6, 2016.
Displeased with the judgment, Mr. Faleke headed for the Appeal Court where he challenged the ruling.
Howbeit, in the judgment today by a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, all the six issues raised by Mr. Faleke was resolved and his appeal dismissed.
In the lead judgment read by the Presiding Justice of the panel, Justice Jumai Hannatu, held that the tribunal was right to have dismissed Faleke’s petition.
The appellate court, held that contrary to Faleke’s petition, he could not by virtue of sections 181(1) and 179(2) stepped in as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress following the death of Audu.
The court also held that Faleke could not have been declared winner of the poll on the strength of the votes by his and the late Audu’s joint ticket in the November 21 polled.
Furthermore, though the court maintained that Mr. Faleke had the locus standi to challenge the outcome of the election having contested the November 21 on a joint ticket with Audu, it held that he lacked the right to question the substitution of the governorship candidate done by the party.