The death of Prince Abubakar Audu,the candidate of the All Progressive Congress(APC) in the November 21 gubernatorial election for Kogi state came as a huge shock to many. However quite sadly many are not as concerned about his death as they are about its legal implications being a candidate in a yet to be concluded election. As expected, tons of legal opinions have been churned out of legal minds in a bid to answer this legal riddle created in part by Audu’s death and substantially by the lacuna in our laws.
In this paper I shall be making a modest appraisal of the issue vis-a-vis the position of the law, howbeit in its inchoate state.
In addressing the matters arising,we have formulate a sole issue for determination,viz:
“Whether or not the independent national electoral commission,is right to request the APC to choose a NEW candidate for the supplementary elections”
Section 181 of the Constitution provides that when a person is duly elected into the office of governor but dies or is for whatever reason unable to discharge the duties of such office,the person elected with him as deputy governor shall be sworn in as governor.
Section 187 provides that a person shall not be validly nominated as a candidate for a governorship election except he nominates a running
Mate. A running mate is a partner in an election,more like the status of a wife. A candidate and his running mate are like athletes in a relay race,the running mate picks the baton when ever the lead candidate cannot continue the race, he is a substitute at all times. From the moment he is picked and his name forwarded to INEC a running mate in an election acquires a legal status. Thus as the court held in Atiku Abubakar v. AG federation(citation to be provided subsequently),the Deputy Governor is entitled to all the votes cast in the election for the ticket. He is a joint holder of the ticket and all votes casted for the main candidate are casted for him too. On this premise therefore I submit that the running mate to prince Audu ought to continue as the governorship candidate of the APC haven contested and secured votes already. To sideline him and bring in a fresh candidate as INEC seems to have opened the door for is akin to replacing Prince Audu(were he to be alive) before the supplementary election, surely that will be a clear infringement of the law and so is this.
It is therefore our submission that the rightful candidate to proceed into the election as APC governorship candidate is Hon John Abiodun Faleke and no other.
It is my hope that the APC will heed the voice of reason and not take any decision that will upset the politics of Kogi state for years. The templates of the law should be strictly adhered to, justices to adjudicate on this pressing issue should not politick the situation. Just my view.
Jeremiah Owolabi is a member of the law class of “18. Esquire is an experienced writer having worked with the Guardian Newspaper and Sahara Reporters. His writing ranges from National, to Unilag, and Faculty politics.