Running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21, 2015 election in Kogi State, James Faleke, yesterday lost his bid to unseat Governor Yahaya Bello.
The tribunal held that Faleke could not be declared governor because he did not participate in the APC primary.
Halima Mohammed, justice of the tribunal, who delivered the judgment, held that Faleke was not nominated by the APC as its substantive candidate in the governorship election.
She stated that the party was right to have nominated Bello to replace the late Audu as its candidate in the December 2015 supplementary election.
The judge held that Faleke had no locus-standi to file the petition since he was not nominated by the APC as its governorship candidate.
Mohammed further said that “votes cast in an election belong to a political party” which nominates a candidate, hence it was lawful for the party to transfer votes polled by Audu to Bello.
She,thereafter, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
However, Mohammed held that Faleke remained the valid deputy governor of the state because there was no evidence to show that he wrote to his party withdrawing his candidature as deputy governor as required by law.
Faleke had petitioned the tribunal challenging the declaration of Bello as governor of the state.
Crisis started when the APC replaced Audu, its late candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship election with Bello.
Faleke, who was the running mate of Audu in the election, felt slighted by the action of his party and then asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him winner of the election.
He contended that he ought to have inherited the votes of Audu, who was leading in the election before it was declared inconclusive, since he was his running mate.
But INEC went ahead to hold a supplementary election with Bello as a substitute candidate for the APC.
Bello’s argument was that he was duly nominated by his party to represent them in the supplementary election, and that he scored the highest number of votes in the exercise.
Idris Wada, former governor of the state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also petitioned the tribunal asking it to declare him winner of the election.
The tribunal will deliver judgment on his petition today.