Friday, May 13, 2016 10:08 pm
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal, Mr Alex Izinyon (SAN) says that although Mr James Abiodun Faleke sent a letter withdrawing his candidature as running mate to Governor Yahaya Bello, the commission simply ignored it.
Izinyon said the letter ought to have been sent by the All Progressives Congress and not Faleke directly.
The senior lawyer said this during the sitting of the tribunal in Abuja on Friday, while giving the commission’s final written addresses.
According to him, it is not the commission’s duty to substitute candidates for parties in any election.
The counsel told the tribunal that there was no evidence before the commission that Mr James Faleke, the running mate to late Abubakar Audu withdrew his candidature before the Dec. 5, 2015 supplementary election.
He added that there was also no indication before the commission that Faleke withdrew his candidature as the running mate to Governor Yahaya Bello before the supplementary election.
“Our submission is that based on the evidences of the 1st and 2nd respondents, Bello and APC before the tribunal, it is clear that INEC does not do substitution, except the political parties.
“There was also no evidence that the 2nd respondent communicated to INEC of the withdrawal of Faleke as required by the law.
“This is why INEC did not act on the purported letter by Faleke, it ignored it,’’ Izinyon said.
Izinyon also told the tribunal that since it was the issue of substitution that brought in Bello and not nomination, there was no way the APC would have withdrawn Faleke by law.
He said that the letter purportedly written by Faleke only spoke for him and urged the tribunal to dismiss the PDP’s petition for lacking in merit.
According to Izinyon, the PDP which cited many cases to back up its argument why the tribunal should enter judgment for it is using Old Testament jurisprudence.
Izinyon said that the laws he had cited before the tribunal were the new laws.
Earlier, Bello’s Counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss PDP’s petition, adding that it was not weighty enough to enter into judgment.
Daudu said that the position of the law cited by the PDP counsel had changed for a very long time.
According to Daudu, votes in an election are no longer for a candidate but for the party.
The APC Counsel, Mr Akinlolu Olujimi aligned himself with Daudu’s submission that the petition of PDP be dismissed.
Olujimi said that Section 187 of the 1999 Constitution which the petitioner had relied upon on the issue of qualification was misconceived by him.
According to Olujimi, Section 187 only reference to nomination, and can only be challenged before an election.
“You cannot challenge the issue of nomination after an election has been conducted.
“It was when the candidate of the 2nd respondent (APC) passed on that Bello was substituted.
“Section 33 of the electoral law does not require that substituted candidate need to begin the process of election again, we are only concerned with substitution only and not nomination,’’ Olujimi said.
Counsel to former Governor Idris Wada of the PDP, Mr Chris Uche (SAN) prayed the tribunal to enter judgment for him, adding that the petitioner had already proved his case.
“We urge this tribunal to discountenance and strike out all the reply on point of law of the respondents.’’
Uche told the tribunal that as at the time of the election, Gov. Bello had no running mate as deputy, hence he was not qualified to participate in the supplementary election.
According to Uche, nomination for a running mate or a deputy is the function of the substantive candidate and not the function of the political party.
Uche also told the tribunal that governor Bello inherited votes he did not labour for; adding that this was contrary to the electoral law.
“INEC has a primary role to play in all this, Bello inherited votes; inheritance is only limited to a legitimate charge.
“We urged INEC to enter judgment for us or in alternative order for a fresh election in the state to allow the people of the state choose their legitimate leader,’’ Uche pleaded.
Meanwhile, Justice Halima Muhammad has adjourned judgment to a later date.
The Judge said that the new date for the judgment would be communicated to the parties involved in the petition.