The Kogi State Governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed a petition brought before it by the immediate-past governor of the state, Idris Wada, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the emergence of Yahaya Bello as governor.
Mr. Bello was nominated by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to replace Abubakar Audu, who died before completion of the polls.
Mr. Audu was in clear lead as the Independent National Electoral Commission was collating the results of the governorship election which held on November 21.
After his death, INEC declared the election inconclusive and asked APC to name a replacement.
Mr. Bello was named the replacement, and he defeated Mr. Wada in the supplementary election that held on December 5.
However, Mr. Wada challenged the outcome at the tribunal chaired by Justice Halima Mohammed. He alleged “gross irregularities”, and asked the tribunal to determine whether Mr. Bello was qualified to be declared governor-elect even though he did not take part in all the electoral processes that led to the supplementary poll.
The former Kogi governor said INEC contravened the electoral law by accepting to allow the APC to replace the late Mr. Audu with Mr. Bello.
He also argued that Mr. Bello former went into the supplementary poll without a valid running-mate.
The running mate to the late Audu, James Faleke, had declined to run with Mr. Bello saying that as the deputy to the late Mr. Audu, the poll was technically concluded on November 21.
His petition against Mr. Bello was earlier dismissed on Monday for lacking merit.
Mr. Wada on Tuesday suffered a similar fate as the tribunal said he lacked the locus standi to challenge the process that produced Mr. Bello as the APC candidate.
Mrs. Mohammed said Mr. Bello’s nomination was in line with the Electoral Act and that Mr. Wada not being a member of the APC , had no right to challenge the process.
Mr. Wada had also prayed in his petition that the tribunal reject the nomination of Mr. Bello as a replacement for the late Audu because it was done outside the 21-day period allowed by the Electoral Act.
In her verdict, the tribunal chairperson said the 21-day period for the substitution of candidate did not apply in the matter since Mr. Bello “is a member of the APC and having come second in the primary election earlier conducted by the party”.
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