A Civil Society Organization and Election Monitoring Group, Conscience Nigeria, has raised the alarm on an alleged surreptitious plan by the Independent National Electoral Commission to assist the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the December 5 supplementary governorship election in Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, to fill in the name of a running mate different from James Faleke.
Mr. Faleke was the deputy governorship candidate to the late APC governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, in the substantive governorship election.
The group’s Executive Director, Tosin Adeyanju, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, alleged that INEC was also planning to enter the new name on its official documents and backdate same in order to prove to the Election Petition Tribunal Sitting in Lokoja that Mr. Bello actually fulfilled constitutional provisions by running the Supplementary election with a deputy.
“Section 187 sub-section 1 of the Nigerian Constitution is very emphatic and states in unequivocal terms that any governorship candidate for an election will not be deemed to be duly elected if he fails to run the election with a deputy,” he said.
“With Hon. Faleke’s letter to APC and INEC refusing to be Bello’s Deputy and opting out of the supplementary election, political observers and legal pundits had wondered how Bello would beat the trap of section 187 of the constitution since he actually ran the election without a deputy.”
The section states thus: “In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this part of this chapter relate, a candidate for the office of Governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of Governor, who is to occupy the office of Deputy Governor…”.
According to Mr. Adeyanju, Conscience Nigeria is disturbed with reports from very credible sources establishing the fact that a former member of Kogi State House of Assembly, Simon Achuba, from the Igala speaking part of the state (Kogi East) had been picked as the deputy governorship candidate who purportedly ran the supplementary election of December 5, 2015 with Mr. Bello.
“We are terribly shocked with this development. This is corruption of the highest order and must not be allowed to stand,” Adeyanju said.
“The confusing signal emanating from INEC’s position at the Tribunal points irresistibly to the fact that the commission is up to something sinister in its quest to rationalize the inclusion of Yahaya Bello as replacement for the deceased APC candidate, Prince Audu in the 2015 election.
“Even legal pundits are at a loss as to the evasive and inherently conflicting averments in the processes so far filed on INEC’s behalf before the Tribunal especially as it has to do with the deputy governorship candidate of the APC that ran with Yahaya Bello in the Supplementary election of December 5, 2015.
“While INEC had maintained prior to the Supplementary election that Hon. Faleke was Bello’s Deputy, a position disputed by Faleke, facts distilled from INEC’s response to the petitions filed by the PDP and Faleke suggest rather curiously that APC and Bello had nominated another Deputy Governorship Candidate in the Supplementary election without naming who that candidate is.”
Mr. Adeyanju related the scenario that occurred during the collation of the December 5, 2015 Supplementary Election at the State collation centre, Lokoja, when an agent of the PDP challenged the nomination of Mr. Bello as governorship candidate by the APC since he had no deputy as Mr. Faleke had withdrawn but that the INEC National Commissioner in charge North Central, Amina Zakari, responded that Mr. Faleke remained Mr. Bello’s deputy because his party, APC, had not withdrawn his nomination despite the fact that he had written to the electoral umpire informing it of his intention to pull out of the race.
He quoted Ms. Zakari as saying that “unless the party withdraws a candidate, his letter is not enough, and unless the proper channel is followed, which is through the party, he remains the running mate”.
Mr. Adeyanju called on the leadership of INEC to as a matter of urgency investigate this alleged corrupt plan within its fold with a view to bringing culprits to book.
“The whole world is watching the political scenario in Kogi with keen interest and that nothing short of fairness and justice by the electoral agency would be acceptable,” he added.