National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday said the party might finally consider the option of replacing its deputy-elect in Kogi State, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, if all the reconciliatory moves fail.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun spoke at the national secretariat of the party while fielding questions from journalists on current issues in the country.
The APC chief however, said “consultations to bring everybody back on board” were going on.
He explained that the Kogi situation, which was still evolving, was a settled issue, adding that with the decision taken by the party, the APC was ready to face any legal hurdle.
He said the party adopted a simple commonsensical solution which was legally defensible in the choice of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Oyegun said, “We have thought the process through and we have won the election in Kogi. Those we feel aggrieved, it is for them to call to question whatever they feel aggrieved about. We will meet them on those grounds. For us in the APC, Kogi is a settled issue, if you want to go to the tribunal, we’ll meet you there, if you want to go to court, we’ll meet you there.
“Kogi is basically resolved, thank God in favour of the APC. It is very unfortunate that tragic event occurred that the entire polity had to be original to finding solutions to problems which detailed as the constitution is, were not envisaged. In the next few weeks, depending on who goes to court or who doesn’t, we will know the boundaries of the law in respect of these issues.
“As at now, we are very glad that the results that we have got. I’m very sure that they would uphold virtually in every tribunal whatsoever because we have adopted simple commonsensical solution, legally defendable proceeding from the unfortunate situation we found ourselves in,” he spoke on the reasons why the party settled for Bello.
Asked whether the party would sanction Faleke for declaring himself a bonafide candidate without consulting the party, the APC National Chairman said, “as political party, we simply understand the frustration that emanated from the death of late Prince Abubakar Audu. However, it is normal for us to accommodate the immediate reactions coming from the people involved. They were at the gate of victory, but was shut at the faces because of the unfortunate death of their mentor (Abubakar Audu) who would have been our governor in the state. So, a lot of things which normally we would not have accepted happened. But we have to accept them so long that everybody we simmer down as time passes by. Wielding out the big stick in a situation like this might not be appropriate. But there will be a timeline to it, enough will be enough at a certain time.”
But when told that Faleke had pledged not to attend the swearing-in ceremony, he said, “On the Faleke issue, it is a straightforward and easy issue. We have replaced a governorship candidate. If the need arises and subject to what the law says, we will also get a deputy governorship candidate. But we will cross those bridges as they arise. But they have not arisen yet.”
When contacted, the APC Publicity Secretary in Kogi State, Nda Gali Usman, said he could not make any comment over the development. Usman said they would wait for whatever decision the national leadership of the party took on the matter.
“Actually, I don’t think I have any reaction to that now because it is a leadership issue, something that the national leadership is deciding on. I don’t think I have anything to say for now.
“We will wait for anything that comes from the national secretariat of our party,”he said.
On his part, one of the media aides to Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Mr Abdulmalik Suleiman said they had absolute confidence in the party’s capability to bring the impasse to an end.
APC swimming in illegality- Lawyers Senior lawyers have warned that the APC will be embarking on illegality if it goes ahead to replace James Faleke as the deputy governor-elect of Kogi State.
Abeny Mohammed (SAN) said the introduction of Yahaya Bello as the party’s governorship candidate, following the death of Audu was even against both the constitution and the Electoral Act because he can’t inherit the votes of Audu.
“Whereas James Faleke as governor would be fair since he was the running mate to the late Audu-under Section 181 (1) of the Constitution, he replaces Audu as the governor and he now nominates a running mate -So what APC has done ab initio by bringing in Yahaya Bello is unconstitutional and not supported by the Electoral Act,” he said.
Also commenting, Niyi Akintola (SAN) blamed the APC for acting like “a party of anything goes,” insisting that the party was advised on the implications of its actions, following the death of Audu but it chose to ignore the legal opinions.
“I can tell you authoritatively that the very day Audu died, APC through the APC Governors’ Forum headed by Rochas Okorocha requested for legal opinion from me. I told them to go to court and compel INEC to announce the total results because the results were not inconclusive.
“INEC committed blunder from the word go and unfortunately APC as a party fell into the same error. APC was already leading by 41, 353 votes. The number of people remaining on the voters’ register was 49, 000. Of that figure only 25, 000 PVC were collected. Assuming all the 25,000 turn out to vote, it would not match the 41, 000 APC was leading with. APC was properly tutored over this.
“I wrote opinion the night Audu died, and that opinion was already with the governors’ forum chairman, it was with their regional leader in Abuja and Lagos. And they were calling me, I asked them to go to court to seek a declaration. Yet, they didn’t do anything. I don’t know what locus Bello has to sustain that APC victory,” he said.
In his contribution, Yusuf Ali (SAN) said it is illegal for the APC candidate, Yahaya Bello to ‘inherit’ the votes cast for the late Audu when the election was almost 99 per cent concluded.
He said the decision of Faleke to withdraw from the ticket has made the situation ‘messier and more complicated’, maintaining that fresh elections should have been conducted in the state following the death of Audu.
Also during the interactive session, the APC boss expressed disappointment over the conduct of Bayelsa State governorship election.
He, however, said that the party would exercise patience and allow the conclusion of the entire process before making its position known.
The APC National Chairman also explained that the fuel subsidy would eventually be removed after the government might have provided palliative measures to cushion the effects of its hardship on Nigerians.