The Kogi state election tribunal has dismissed the petition of James Faleke challenging the legitimacy of Yahaya Bello as governor of Kogi state in north central Nigeria.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Halima Mohammed, who delivered the judgment, held that Faleke could not be declared governor of Kogi state because he was not nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its substantive candidate in the 2015 Kogi governorship election.
She stated that the APC was right to have nominated Bello to replace the late Abubakar 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 Abubakar Audu to Yahaya 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 Kogi state.
Crisis started when the APC replaced Audu, its late candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state with Bello.
Faleke, who was the running mate of Audu in the electi.on, felt slighted by the action of his party; he then asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him winner of the election.
But INEC declined to oblige him.
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 electoral umpire 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.
But Faleke maintained that Bello was unqualified to be governor of Kogi state.
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.
He contended that Bello was an interloper who had no business with the exercise.
The tribunal will deliver judgment on his petition on Tuesday.