Kogi Guber: Wada Rejects Tribunal Ruling, Heads For Appeal Court

Idris WadaThe immediate past governor of Kogi State, Capt. Idris Wada, has rejected the verdict of the Kogi governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, which on Tuesday, dismissed his petition challenging the emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor of the state.
Mr. Wada contested for a second term on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to Bello, who was the substitute candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5, 2015 supplementary election.
However, Mr. Wada challenged the outcome of the polls and declaration of Bello as governor, alleging “gross irregularities” and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
He also 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 the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, contravened the electoral law by accepting to allow the APC submit Bello’s name as replacement for its former candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, who passed away before the announcement of the election result.
He also argued that Mr. Bello went into the supplementary poll without a valid running-mate as provided in the Constitution.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Chairman of the three-member Tribunal, Justice Halima Mohammed dismissed Wada’s petition, saying 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.
To this, the tribunal ruled that 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”.
On the former governor’s argument that Faleke did not submit a letter to INEC withdrawing as running mate to Bello and for the APC to make a substitution within the time provided by law, Justice Mohammed held that Faleke’s letter was submitted late to the electoral umpire because of the exigencies of the time.
She also reiterated her judgment on Monday in which the tribunal dismissed Faleke’s petition against Bello that votes cast in an election are for political parties not individuals.
In his reaction, Wada said he would appeal the tribunal ruling.
He said that as a believer in the country’s judiciary, he will challenge the decision at the appellate court.
Speaking through his media aide, Jacob Edi, the former governor said: “We believe in the judiciary and we still have confidence in the judiciary of the country. Since the law of the land provides that we can still move ahead to a higher court, we will utilise the opportunities available to us.
“We know that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, so we are definitely going to file our appeal and we are confident of getting judgment”.