It’s a big honour for democracy, says governor
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello described his Supreme Court victory as a “big honour to democracy”.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kingsley Fanwo, said: “The landmark judgment of the Supreme Court today (yesterda), which affirmed Governor Bello’s election, is a watershed in the annals of electoral jurisprudence and constitutional law in the country. It was a long walk to victory which will reshape our constitution.
“Governor Bello has been humble and magnanimous in victory. He has called on those who contended with him to join him in building a greater Kogi State.
“The governor has said the victory belongs to all Kogi people who believe in transforming the state from a potentially great state to a really great state. He is committed to serving the people and making the state the centre of excellence and the cynosure of all eyes”.
He cautioned his supporters against “unbridled” celebration, saying the moment is a challenge to all Kogites to reflect on how to make the state great.
The governor said he would continue to pursue his cardinal goals of improving education, reinventing healthcare, boosting infrastructural development as well as raising the capacity of the State citizens to reinvigorate the economy.
He thanked the judiciary for rising to the occasion “by standing firm with what is true and just”.
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello’s election
A seven-man panel of the apex court, in four unanimous judgments, upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and election tribunal on the dispute over the outcome of the governorship election held on November 21 and the supplementary election conducted on December 5, 2015.
The court, which took arguments from parties earlier in the day, dismissed the four appeals filed against the August 4, 2016 judgments by the Court of Appeal tribunal in Abuja.
The court merely made public its conclusions on the four appeals yesterday and adjourned to September 30 to provide reasons for its decisions.
Justice Kudirat Kekere -Ekun read the lead judgment in the appeal that was first decided, which was filed by James Faleke.
She rejected the argument by lawyer to Faleke, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) on the need to set aside the earlier decisions of the Court of Appeal on the issue.
Justice Kekere-Ekun held that the appeal by Faleke was without merit and dismissed it.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who led the court’s panel, delivered the lead judgment in the second appeal filed by former Governor Idris Wada, his ex-deputy, Yomi Awoniyi and their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The lead judgment in the third appeal filed by the African Democratic Congress (ADC) was read by Justice John Okoro, while Justice Musa Datijo Mohammed read the lead judgment in the appeal by the Labour Party (LP).
Justice Mohammed upheld Bello’s preliminary objection against the appeal by the LP and struck out the appeal for being incompetent.
Other members of the panel were Justices Kayode Ariwoola, Clara Ogunbiyi and Amiru Sanusi.
Olanipekun had, while arguing his Faleke’s appeal, urged the court to invoke Section 187 of the Constitution to declare his client winner of the election.
He hinged his request among others on the fact that Faleke shared a joint ticket with late Abubakar Audu and that the election had technically been concluded at the time Audu died.
Wada’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), urged the apex court to invoke Section 141 of the Electoral Act in sacking Bello on grounds that he (Bello) did not participate in all the stages of the election.
Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), counsel to the governor prayed the apex court to discountenance the arguments canvassed by Olanipekun.
He said the nomination of his client to participate in the re-run election was done according to law.
“How else should a candidate emerge? He came second in the party primary and therefore became the most qualified to enter the contest on the demise of Abubakar.
“Faleke was never in the picture because he was just a running mate and the provisions of the laws do not arrogate to him automatic qualification after his principal (Abubakar) died.
“The Electoral Act and the Constitution have since empowered Political Parties as the single entity to nominate candidates for elections and that was played out here,’’ he said.
Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) counsel to the APC also aligned with Daudu by urging the court to dismiss the appeal.
Uche averred that the modalities that characterised the Dec.5 re-run election remained fraudulent, adding that the law did not allow transmission of votes to another candidate.
“The entire process was a fraud My Lords. INEC simply aided a rape on democracy in Kogi for declaring Bello as the governor.
“By implication, the acclaimed governor only scored about 6,000 votes out of the over 400,000 votes, leaving the mandate of the people in the hands of a total stranger.
“In other to re-write this wrong, the apex court must do the needful by removing him from that position,’’ he said.
Uche further said: “what INEC should have done was to order for fresh election after the death of the APC substantive candidate when election was 95 per cent concluded’’