Attorney-General’s verdict: APC will substitute its candidate for Kogi supplementary election

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“APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also, Section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes that were cast were cast in favour of the APC.
“Arising from that deductions, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear, APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it”.
With those words, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would substitute its candidate for the purpose of the supplementary elections in Kogi State.
The governorship election in the North-Central state was held last Saturday and the APC candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, won the majority of the votes cast, defeating the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Governor Idris Wada.
But because the number of total votes voided was higher than the difference in the votes cast in favour of Audu to defeat Wada, the election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Shortly after the announcement, news filtered in that Audu was dead.
He was buried on Monday.
Since then, there have been various permutations by legal experts on what will happen to the APC ticket during the supplementary election.
The Attorney-General, who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission on the reform of the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act‎ said the election must be concluded and the party would substitute its candidate for the purpose of the supplementary election.
He, however, refused to disclose if Audu’s running mate, James Faleke, would be substituted for Audu or another candidate would be picked.
He said: “The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear‎ that in case of death, the right for substitution by a political party is sustained by the provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act.
“And if you have a community reading of that section with Section 221 of the constitution which clearly indicates that the right to vote is the right of a political party and the party in this case, the APC, has participated in the conduct of the election. It is, therefore, apparent that ‎the combination community reading of the two provisions does not leave any room for conjecture.
“APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also, Section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes that were cast were cast in favour of the APC.
“Arising from that deductions, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear, APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it. The supplementary election that has to be conducted along the line.”
On whether Faleke would automatically become the candidate, Malami said: “It all depends on the appreciation of issues arising from the primaries conducted before now. There was a first and a second candidate. That primaries that had taken place over time had not by anyway been nullified. And it is recognised by law.
“But then a further consideration would be the idea of conducting another primary but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries.‎”

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