Kogi Governorship Tussle: Supreme Court To Decide Yahaya Bello’s Fate Today

The Supreme Court of Nigeria will today, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, deliver judgment in two separate appeals brought before it by former APC governorship running mate, James Faleke and former governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada against Governor Yahaya Bello.

Recall that Mr. Faleke and Mr. Wada, had both appealed the decision of the Appeal Court which upheld the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.

Recall also on August 4, 2016, a five-member panel of justices of the appellate court, had in a unanimous judgment read by Justice Jummai Sankey, upheld the verdict of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, which dismissed James Faleke’s petition.

While James Faleke’s petition was dismissed by the appellate court, in Wada’s appeal, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya gave a dissenting judgment cancelling the election of Bello on the grounds that he was not validly nominated for the election following Audu’s death and that he failed to nominate a running mate before the election.

Justice Ogbuinya in his judgment, ordered the withdrawal of the governor’s Certificate of Return and the conduct of fresh election in the state.

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello and Idris Wada.

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello and Idris Wada.

Meanwhile, ahead of today’s judgment, Jacob Edi, the special adviser, media and strategy, to Mr. Wada, has reechoed his principal’s belief in the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court.

According to him, “We expect to win the case, we have always had confidence in the judiciary and we have kept advancing to the last stage, that is why we are at the Supreme Court. The judiciary is the ultimate for the common man.

“The framers of the constitution are aware that at every stage of the case newer interpretations will come up. We believe that the Supreme Court will look deeper into the case, particularly with the minority judgment.

“Whatever decision taken will deepen democracy as the case is novel, it will be a landmark judgment. We have confidence in the independence of the Supreme Court”. Edi added.

Similarly, Governor Bello’s special adviser on media and strategy, Abdulmalik Abdulkareem, has expressed confidence that his principal will come out victorious.

In his words, “We are not shaken, we know that the rule of law will take its course, God willing, we are set to make a legal record that will become a precedent.

“The Nigerian legal system is developing and we are happy that our case is adding impetus to the Nigerian judiciary,” he opined.

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello and Idris Wada.

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello and Idris Wada.

In a related development, ahead of today’s judgment, the Director New Media of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Deji Adeyanju has called on the Supreme Court to do what is right during the process of delivering its judgment.

According to him, “On September 20, 2016 the Supreme Court will determine one of the most brazen attempts to violate the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when it gives its judgment in the matter of Idris Wada & Others v Yahaya Bello & Others.

“The facts of this case are clear and as such do not require repetition. However, the legal issues are somewhat murky. While our laws did not envisage the scenario caused by the unfortunate death of late Prince Abubakar Audu and do not stipulate the pathway to follow to resolve the quagmire, they are very clear on what not to do in pursuit of a resolution.

“In attempting to resolve the issues thrown up by late Audu’s death, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aided by the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) took the option most prejudicial to democracy in Nigeria by permitting:

  1. The substitution of the late APC candidate with Yahaya Bello;
  2. Passing off votes cast for the late APC candidate as votes cast for Yahaya Bello;

iii. Permitting Yahaya Bello to contest for the supplementary elections without a deputy governorship candidate, and

  1. Issuing him a certificate of return in furtherance of (iii) above.

“Without prejudice to all the legal issues relating to this appeal, two fundamental issues can be distilled from the facts, both of which form the basis of our contention that Yahaya Bello ought to have been removed from office by the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

  1. Were the Tribunal & Court of Appeal right to have upheld the election of Yahaya Bello in light of the provision of Section 141 of the Electoral Act?

“Section 141 provides that the Tribunal or Court shall not under any circumstance declare any person winner of an election if such a person did not fully participate in all stages of the election.

“This provision of law has already been applied and upheld by the apex court in a plethora of cases. These include: CPC v Ombugadu (2013) 18 NWLR (1385) 16; Gbileve v Addingi (2014) 16 NWLR (1433) 56; Eligwe v Okpokiri (2015) 2 NWLR (1443) 348; Jev v Iyortom (2015) 15 NWLR (1483) 484.

“The interpretation given to this section was that while Courts listening to intra-party disputes could declare a person who had not participated in all stages of an election winner, an Election Petition Tribunal or the Court of Appeal sitting as a court of first instance cannot do so.

“The facts are clear and unambiguous. Yahaya Bello did not participate in the elections of November 21st, 2015 where more than 230,000 votes which were allocated to him were cast”. Adeyanju added.

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