The Supreme Court will in the next few hours determine the fate of the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
While there are five appeals against the Court of Appeal rulings, in summary, the Supreme Court will decide if Mr. Bello should continue as Kogi governor or vacate office.
One of those appeals is by the immediate past governor of the state and candidate of the opposition PDP, Idris Wada. Another is by James Faleke who was the deputy governorship candidate to late Abubakar Audu who died before the final announcement of results by the electoral commission, INEC.
While the ruling APC replaced late Mr. Audu with Mr. Bello, Mr. Faleke believes he should have automatically become the party’s governorship candidate and eventual governor after the death of his principal
Whatever verdict by the Supreme Court today will be the final decision on the controversy that has lingered for several months.
Supporters of the various parties to the case are already in court, many of them from Kogi State.
Many of the supporters arrived Abuja on Monday, an aide to Mr. Bello said.
Parties in the suit have mentioned appearances to the court.
Wale Olanikpekun is representing Mr. Faleke while Alex Izinyon represents INEC.
Joseph Daudu represents Yahaya Bello while the representative of the Labour party is yet to be mentioned.
All the lawyers mentioned so far are Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Another Senior Advocate, Akin Olujinmi, also represents INEC.
Justice Sylvester Ngwata leads six other justices of the Supreme Court to decide the case.
Alex Izinyon, INEC counsel, said he notes the peculiarity of the case. He asks the court to take cognisance of Section 141 of the Electoral Act to determine if Mr. Faleke has taken full part in the election. He says the section deals in full participation of the candidate.
Mr. Iziyon says votes cast cannot be inherited.
After the submissions of Mr. Izinyon, Joseph Daudu, counsel to Governor Bello said the application should be dismissed.
He said the three grounds mentioned by Mr. Izinyon, that Mr. Bello was not elected by majority of voters, that he was not qualified to have emerged candidate, and that the electoral procedure was not followed have not been proven by Mr. Izinyon.
Alex Izinyon had stated in his closing statement that “He (Mr. Bello) was a stranger who suddenly got automatic ticket; that’s why he needs to be removed.”
Mr. Daudu argues that APC and the candidate it chooses has the right to inherit all what was owned by late Mr. Audu.
“Even his wife,” he adds jokingly.
Mr. Daudu says it is the election tribunal that has the right to decide whether a person has participated in an election or not.
Mr. Daudu says Section 221 of the constitution allows that it is the political party that contests elections.
It was one and the same election. The election of November 21 was only declared inconclusive and then concluded on December 5, Mr. Daudu, Governor Bello’s counsel says.
“The beneficiary of the votes in both elections are Yahaya Bello,” Mr. Daudu tells the court.
Akin Olujinmi representing APC says Section 33 of the Electoral Act allows a party to substitute a dead candidate.
When asked by one of the judges to explain what he understands by a candidate, Mr. Olujinmi said: “My lord, candidate is a candidate” causing laughter in the court room.
Alex Izinyon takes the floor again. He says the court should adopt his previous arguments asking for the sack of Yahaya Bello.
He argues that Section 141 of the Electoral Act should be tied to Section 138 of the same Act.
Mr. Izinyon said court records show that Mr. Faleke remained the deputy governorship candidate of the APC.
The party and the candidate are inseparable as far as both of them are alive, he said.
Chris Uche, representing Idris Wada, said the law states that nobody other than a political party should canvass votes for a candidate.
Mr. Uche argued that the Supreme Court never allowed a party to appoint another person to represent a dead candidate.
He said a candidate can only be regarded as having participated in an election if he takes full part in the entire process.
The PDP candidate’s counsel said the problem his client has is that the substitution did not take place before the entire election.
When asked whether candidates vote as individuals or candidates, Mr. Uche said voters also look out for a candidate.
“A party needs a candidate to conduct an election. The party cannot just bring a person to come and inherit the votes of another person,” Mr. Uche told the court.
After the argument of Chris Uche, Mr. Wada’s counsel, the court has gone on recess.
The recess is over and the judges are back. The court sitting continues
A woman bangs the door several times in an attempt to enter the court after the door was closed by security officials.
The presiding judge asks that everyone be allowed in so that there will be silence.
A party to the matter, the Africa Democratic Party, through its lawyer, Maduabuchi Oba, said the law allows that a person who emerged winner must have participated in all elections in the whole of Kogi
“Votes cast are not APC votes but the people’s votes for APC. So, after the substitution, they should have started afresh,” Mr. Oba said.
On the importance of a candidate, Mr. Oba says without Muhammadu Buhari, the APC would not have won the presidency.
Joseph Daudu takes the floor again after Mr. Oba’s submission.
Mr. Daudu says no matter how juicy the arguments of counsel are, the law supersedes arguments.
Sulaiman Islam, counsel to the Labour Party, is introducing a new motion to the court.
He said the motion was filed on August 16.
He asks the court to allow the new motion.
The Labour Party lawyer said the main grounds of arguments raised by his counsel was neglected at the lower court.
The presiding judge, Justice Sylvester, asked the Labour Party lawyer if he appealed the order of the lower court. He answered in the negative.
The court held that since he did not appeal the ruling, he was deemed to have accepted the decision of the lower court.
The Labour Party candidate said he did appeal but did not do so immediately.
Ayotunde Ogunleye, a counsel to APC, said grounds 1 to 4 of the the appellants appeal were made after the time the law allows for such motions to be filed.
Mr. Ogunleye said grounds 5 to 22 are direct appeals against the tribunal. He said the appellants did not make any appeal at the lower court, they only came to the Supreme Court to contest the tribunal’s decision.
Mr. Ogunleye said substitution has already been decided by Section 177 of the constitution.
He said previous court rulings have shown that votes belong to political parties.
“No contrary decision has been made to set aside that decision. The APC won on November 21, and the APC concluded its winning on December 5,” he said.
The presiding judge drew INEC lawyer’s attention to an issue. He asked that the lawyer clarifies the seeming controversy about the place of INEC as a party to the matter.
He noted that the two lower courts had in their rulings removed INEC from being a party to the matter.
The judge then asked why INEC appeared before the Apex court as a party without deciding to appeal the judgement first.
The court has gone on another recess. No reason was given for this recess.
The Court also dismissed the appeals challenging INEC’s decision to return Mr. Bello.
The court also dismissed the application by the Africa Democratic Congress challenging the qualification of Mr. Bello. A similar application by the Labour Party was also struck out.
Some attendees at the court, obviously unhappy about the election are seen walking out.
The court session comes to an end.
Thank you for following our live update.
In the live blog we ran on Tuesday’s Supreme Court’s session on the Kogi governorship appeal, we erroneously attributed the following statements to the counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Alex Izinyon, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
*Alex Izinyon, INEC counsel, said he notes the peculiarity of the case. He asks the court to take cognisance of Section 141 of the Electoral Act to determine if Mr. Faleke has taken full part in the election. He says the section deals in full participation of the candidate.
*Alex Izinyon had stated in his closing statement that “He (Mr. Bello) was a stranger who suddenly got automatic ticket; that’s why he needs to be removed.
*Alex Izinyon takes the floor again. He says the court should adopt his previous arguments asking for the sack of Yahaya Bello.
*He argues that Section 141 of the Electoral Act should be tied to Section 138 of the same Act.
We have since clarified that the statements were not made by Mr. Izinyon but by Chris Uche, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to ex-Governor Idris Wada.
Similarly, the statement “When asked by one of the judges to explain what he understands by a candidate, Mr. Olujinmi said: “My lord, candidate is a candidate” causing laughter in the court room.
We also clarified that it was not Akin Olujimi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who was the counsel to the All Progressives Congress, APC, that responded to the question but one of the justices of the Supreme Court who responded to his colleague.
We regret the embarrassment this mix-ups caused Messrs. Izinyon and Olujimi.