Kogi: Appeal Court upholds Yahaya Bello’s election as Kogi governor

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by Mr James Faleke, challenging the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as Kogi State Governor, stating that Faleke’s case lacks merit. Justice Jummai Sankey in his ruling stated that according to Section 221 of the Nigerian constitution, only the party could canvass for votes. She explained that the constitution does not recognise independent candidature, so Faleke could not lay claims to the number of votes polled before the demise of Audu and before the election was concluded. “So it may be said that he is not a candidate,” Sankey said. The judge also held that Faleke was only joined to Audu after the primaries had been concluded, but Bello, whom the APC chose, participated in the primary election that produced Audu as candidate. Sankey also added that the nomination of Bello to replace the late Audu did not contravene the constitution or the electoral act. The appellate court had earlier reserved the judgment after hearing submission from all parties involved in the matter. Counsel for Faleke, Akin Olujimi, had urged the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of the Kogi election tribunal and invalidate the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that Bello was not properly nominated. He submitted that Bello did not undergo all the electioneering processes as required by law before he emerged as his party’s candidate in the re-run election. In his own submission, Joseph Daodu, who is counsel for Governor Bello, insisted that the issue of nomination of candidates for election was the sole responsibility of a political party. Daodu submitted that Governor Bello, having been nominated by the APC in compliance with the existing law and authority of the party remained the candidate of his party in the election. Counsel for INEC, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to uphold the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that he was properly nominated by APC as a replacement to Abubakar Audu who passed away during the election.

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