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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

INEC ‘trying to smuggle a running mate for Bello’

 the big thing
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been accused of assisting Yahaya Bello, candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the December 5 supplementary governorship election in Kogi sate, to smuggle a running mate ahead of his swearing-in ceremony.
James Faleke, running mate to the late Abubakar Audu, the party’s candidate in the substantive election, had rejected the offer of the APC to contest the supplementary election as Bello’s deputy.
Faulting the electoral body for asking his party to replace the deceased, Faleke argued that he ought to have been declared the governor-elect since he ran on a joint ticket with Audu, who was leading the poll.
He resisted all the pressure to make him soft-pedal, and the rerun election held with Bello lacking a running mate.
However, Conscience Nigeria, a civil society organisation and election monitoring group, has alleged that Bello entered an alliance with INEC to “smuggle a running mate” in order to meet the constitutional requirement before he takes office.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is planning to assist Alhaji Yahaya Bello to fill in the name of a running mate different from Hon. James Faleke, deputy governorship candidate to the late APC candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu into INEC official documents and backdate same in order prove to the election petition tribunal sitting in Lokoja that Bello actually fulfilled constitutional provisions by running the supplementary election with a deputy,” the group said in a statement issued by Tosin Adeyanju, its executive director.
“Section 187 sub-section 1 of the Nigerian constitution is very emphatic and states in unequivocal terms that any governorship candidate for an election will not be deemed to be duly elected if he fails to run the election with a deputy.
“With Hon. Faleke’s letter to APC and INEC refusing to be Bello’s deputy and opting out of the supplementary election, political observers and legal pundits had wondered how Bello would beat the trap of section 187 of the constitution since he actually ran the election without a deputy.
“Very credible sources have established the fact that a former member of Kogi state house of assembly, Hon. Simon Achuba from the Igala speaking part of the state (Kogi east) has been picked as the deputy governorship candidate who purportedly ran the supplementary election of December 5, 2015 with Bello!”
The statement described the development as “corruption of the highest order”, and called on INEC to carry out a thorough investigation.
“We are terribly shocked with this development. This is corruption of the highest order and must not be allowed to stand. The confusing signal emanating from INEC’s position at the tribunal points irresistibly to the fact that the commission is up to something sinister in its quest to rationalise the inclusion of Yahaya Bello as replacement for the deceased APC candidate, Prince Audu in the 2015 election,” the statement read.
“Even legal pundits are at loss as to the evasive and inherently conflicting averments in the processes so far filed on INEC’s behalf before the tribunal especially as it has to do with the deputy governorship candidate of the APC that ran with Yahaya Bello in the supplementary election of December 5, 2015.
“While INEC had maintained prior to the supplementary election that Hon. Faleke was Bello’s deputy, a position disputed by Faleke, facts distilled from INEC’s response to the petitions filed by the PDP and Faleke suggest rather curiously that APC and Bello had nominated another deputy governorship candidate in the supplementary election without naming who that candidate is!
“Indeed, impeccable insider sources within Yahaya Bello’s camp confirm that INEC’s position at the tribunal was indeed a smokescreen or a scaffolding upon which a new name could be smuggled in, aided by backdated documents, to support the case of Yahaya Bello.
“Section 187 sub-section 1 of the Nigerian constitution states interalia: ‘In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this part of this chapter relate, a candidate for the office of governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of governor, who is to occupy the office of deputy governor.
“The whole world is watching the political scenario in Kogi with keen interest and that nothing short of fairness and justice by the electoral agency would be acceptable.”

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