A petition by the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State, James Faleke, in which he challenged the election of the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello, has been thrown out by a Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
According to the court, Faleke lacked merit to file the petition. Faleke was the running mate to the APC’s original governorship candidate, the late Abubakar Audu, who was coasting to victory but died after the November 21, 2015 election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Faleke had therefore filed his petition asking the tribunal to declare the substitution of Bello as the governorship candidate following Audu’s death in the December 6, 2015, was unlawful.
He urged the tribunal to declare that the election was already conducted and concluded on November 21 before Audu’s death, and that he had already emerged as the deputy governor-elect.
He therefore asked the tribunal to declare him as the valid substitute for the late Audu and should be returned as the governor-elect.
But delivering its judgment on Faleke’s petition, the Justice Halima Mohammed-led three-man panel held that Faleke lacked legal right to file the petition after upholding Bello’s preliminary objection against it.
The tribunal upheld the objection but decided to still go ahead to decide the petition on merit.
It upheld Bello’s objection to the effect that Faleke lacked locus standi to file the petition having not been the governorship candidate upon the conclusion of the election on December 6, 2015.
It held that it was clear that Faleke was not nominated by its party, the APC, but instead the party nominated Bello as Audu’s replacement.
The tribunal said it lacked the jurisdiction to question internal process of the party leading to the nomination for Audu’s replacement.
It held that contrary to Faleke’s contention, the election had the November 21 poll had not been concluded and thus the right to challenge the outcome of the poll had not accrued to him going by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Meanwhile, the tribunal is still considering the merit of the entire petition.