The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, invited the All Progressives Congress (APC) to forward a replacement for Prince Abubakar Audu, its dead candidate in the inconclusive Kogi State governorship election.
The INEC decision followed a pronouncement to that effect by the Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami.
This came after last Saturday’s governorship election was declared inconclusive due to the fact that the difference in votes between the late Audu and Wada was smaller than the number of registered voters in the 91 polling units where the votes were cancelled. Audu died on Sunday before the election could be concluded, throwing up a legal storm on the fate of the election.
Malami, while speaking at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission on the reform of the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act , said the Kogi gubernatorial election must be concluded within the next 14 days.
Specifically, the AGF said his position on the matter was fortified by a combined reading and application of Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 33 of the Electoral Act.
“The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear that in case of death, the right for substitution by a political party is sustained by the provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act.
“And if you have a community reading of that section with Section 221 of the constitution it clearly indicates that the right to vote is the right of a political party and the party, in this case, the APC has participated in the conduct of the election. It is, therefore, apparent that the combined community reading of the two provisions does not leave any room for conjecture.
“APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also, Section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes cast were cast in favour of the APC.
“Arising from that deduction, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear, APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it.
“The supplementary election has to be conducted along the line,” the AGF added.
Weighing in on the way forward following its acknowledgment of a notice from the APC on the death of Audu, INEC in a statement issued by the secretary of the commission, Augusta Ogakwu, put all the political parties on notice that the supplementary polls would hold on December 5.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, conducted governorship election in Kogi State on 21st November 2015, which was declared inconclusive,” said a statement by the electoral body.
“On November 23, 2015, the All Progressives Congress, APC, notified the commission of the death of its governorship candidate in the election, Prince Abubakar Audu.
“The commission has after due consideration of the circumstances, decided as follows: To conclude the process by conducting election in the 91 affected polling units as announced by the Returning Officer;
“To allow the All Progressives Congress to fill the vacancy created by the death of its candidate;
“To conduct the supplementary election on December 5, 2015.
“Accordingly, notice is hereby given to all the 22 political parties participating in the Kogi Governorship Election that supplementary election in the 91 affected Polling Units shall hold on December 5, 2015”.