By Bode Olagoke, Abuja, and Oyibo Salihu, Lokoja
The hazy cloud hanging over the controversial Kogi polls appears to be far from disappearing as James Abiodun Faleke , the running mate to late Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the inconclusive election, still insists that he is the most qualified to pick the party’s ticket ahead of next Saturday’s polls.
Faleke in a text message to one of our correspondents’ inquiry on whether he was ready to go with Yahya Bello, the party’s choice as a replacement for the deceased, emphatically replied NO.
He further corroborated his position with another letter , the second in three days to strongly warn both the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission against doing anything to the contrary.
This is coming as Kogi Equity Front, a pro-Faleke group as well as Audu/Faleke campaign organisation, similarly warned that they cannot guarantee peace in the state during the supplementary polls if INEC goes ahead with any choice outside Audu’s running mate.
Following Audu’s demise , INEC asked the APC to produce a substitute for the supplementary polls, following which the party came up with Bello , being the first runner-up to Audu during the primaries.
Rejecting the party’s decision in his second letter to APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Faleke said he was not prepared to part with his ‘mandate’ under whatever guise.
Describing himself as the most qualified to fly the party’s flag on Saturday, he asked that the application of the ‘doctrine of necessity’ used in resolving the debacle created by the demise of President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.
In the four-page letter written by his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, entitled RE: JUST CONCLUDED GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION IN KOGI STATE -APC SHOULD NOT SIDETRACK JAMES ABIODUN FALEKE OR SUPER IMPOSE ON HIM ANY OTHER PERSON OR CANDIDATE, Faleke said:
“While reiterating and adopting the position of our client as highlighted, expressed and conveyed in our first letter, permit us, most humbly, but frankly to add the following points on behalf and instruction of our client, that is to say:
(i)The Issue involved is that of constitutional, formal and legal imperatives, rather than political expediency. In the eyes of the Constitution and the law, our client is the governor-elect of Kogi State. There is no gainsaying this fact. It is a truism that cannot be discounted.
(ii) It is the duty of the APC to champion the actualization of its mandate, as well as that of our client. In this wise, we most humbly advise and caution that the party should be minded of the Ides of November, because the idea being sold to the APC by the INEC to go and hold a supplementary primary election for the purpose of bringing forth a governorship candidate to contest a supplementary election in 91 polling units is saturated with deleterious legal and constitutional landmines.
We posit without any hesitation that at this stage, INEC and all the political parties that took part in the concluded election have reached a point of no return. Thus our client can neither be jettisoned by the APC, nor can a new or fresh candidate be imposed on him as his Principal. The law also does not recognize this type of supplementary election in 91 polling units, with total number of eligible voters with PVCs not more than 25,000 or thereabout. Otherwise, if the law and Constitution allow it, Kogi State would end up holding a supplementary election, which would also produce a supplementary governor. Put bluntly, there cannot be any legitimate Governor of Kogi State who would emerge from the supplementary election (outside our client) with a maximum of 25,000 votes, assuming all the registered voters with PVCs cast their votes for the anticipatory supplementary governor will also be likened to a Governor of 91 polling units.
May we quickly draw your attention to Section 179 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution which states:
“(2) A candidate of an election to the office of Governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates-
(b) He has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.”
Olanipekun recalled how the PDP ,in 1999, “called off the bluff of INEC when it ordered a re-run in Adamawa State to elect a fresh or new Governor in place of the then Governor-elect, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who had already transmuted to be Vice President elect.
“It was the contention of PDP that the then Deputy Governor-elect, Boni Haruna automatically became and assumed the position of governor-elect. The PDP took the matter to court and, at the end of the legal pilgrimage, the Supreme Court agreed with the PDP. Then the Deputy Governor-elect, Boni Haruna, not only assumed position as Governor, but spent two terms in office. With very high respect, we do not expect the APC to do less.
“When the late Umaru Yar’Adua was terminally sick, some leading members of your party in coalition with some decent forces in the country, bandying the ‘doctrine of necessity’ championed the cause of the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan to be appointed President. At the end of it all, the National Assembly acceded to this clarion call and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan metamorphosed to acting President.
“Thereafter, he became substantive President for six years.
The point being made by us is that if we could rely on the doctrine of necessity and maximally utilize same to make Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the sitting President, it then goes without saying that both INEC and the APC must submit themselves to the doctrine of constitutional imperative and/or necessity to allow our client to be Governor -elect of Kogi State.”
Faleke said he was not “ready or prepared to trade-off or compromise his mandate as the Governor-elect of Kogi State” and does “not want to believe that he is being discriminated against for whatever reason.”
Rejecting same, KEF urged INEC to declare Faleke winner of last election “in line with Section 179 of 1999 Constitution.”
A statement by the Director-General of the organisation, Pastor Stanley Ajileye, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in order “not to provoke the peace-loving people of Kogi state.”
“We can confirm today that the problems we are confronted with now is not unconnected with moves by few elements within the fold of national executives of APC in Abuja to attempt the stopping of the hand of God over this state. Some of them are already working in tandem with INEC to frustrate power shift in Kogi. Many of them are already making desperate moves at blackmailing Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, that he is plotting a graph for power shift in Kogi state.
“Those officials behind this are believed to be those who are bent on seeing to it that power does not shift. This is against the spirit of equity. We also call on all Kogites to resist with every constitutional means, attempts by INEC to short-change or manipulate us through its
unconstitutional supplementary election on December 5.”
In a related development, Head of Media, Prince Abubakar Audu/Faleke campaign organization, Dr. Tom Ohikere at a press conference in Lokoja warned the national APC leadership to avoid any act capable of setting Kogi State on fire.
“Let me open up to you now. Our political mentor and father, the late Prince Audu on his dying bed, gave instruction to us (his followers), that should he not make it, the baton must be passed to his running mate, Faleke, who he said is capable of carrying on with his vision.
“I want to categorically tell you that the party/executive’s conspiracy started when they heard that Prince Audu was dead, and in an ulterior move to avoid a non-Muslim from stepping in, the INEC returning officer was quickly directed to declare the result inconclusive.”