Tuesday, November 24, 2015 11:05 pm
By Ayorinde Oluokun.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Tuesday said it will allow the All Progressives Congress, APC to substitute Prince Audu Abubakar, its Kogi governorship candidate who died on Sunday just before the results of the gubernatorial election held the previous day was declared inconclusive.
INEC in a circular to all the 22 political parties that participated in the inconclusive gubernatorial election, signed by Augusta Ogakwu, Secretary to the Commission said it will go ahead to conduct supplementary polls in the remaining 91 polling units where elections were either not conducted or cancelled in the Saturday’s election.
The Commission said it took the decision to allow APC replace Audu after “due considerations of the circumstances,” following information it received on Monday about the death of the gubernatorial candidate from its party. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, had earlier spoken in the same vein.
Mallami who spoke at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission on the reform of the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency Establishment) Act agreed with INEC that the Kogi election has to be concluded. According to him, the APC would only have to substitute its candidate for the purpose of the supplementary election, but refused to say if APC’s deputy governorship candidate in the election, James Abiodun Faleke, would automatically step in as the candidate.
“The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear that in case of death, the right for substitution by political a political party is sustained by the provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act. And if you have a community reading of that section with Section 221 of the Constitution, which clearly indicates that the right to vote is the right of a political party and the party in this case, the APC has participated in the conduct of the election. It is therefore apparent that the combination community reading of the two provisions does not leave any room for conjecture. APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also Section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes that were cast were cast in favour of the APC. Arising from that deduction, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear: APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it. The supplementary election that has to be conducted along the line,” said Mallami.
On the possibility of Faleke being the replacement, Malami said: “It all depends on the appreciation of issues arising from the primaries conducted before now. There was a first and a second candidate. That primaries that had taken place over time had not by anyway been nullified. And it is recognized by law. But then a further consideration would be the idea of conducting another primary but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries. “