By Sulaiman Achema, Lokoja
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital has thrown out the petition filed by a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. James Faleke challenging the election of Governor Yahya Bello.
The tribunal in its judgementÂ on TuesdayÂ ruled that the failure of Faleke to join the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a major defect to the petition.
Both the petitioner and the governor are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
While Faleke was the running mate to the first candidate of the APC, late Abubakar Audu, Bello on the other hand was the runner up in the primaries that threw up Audu as the candidate.
The dispute arose when Audu died in the middle of the electioneering process thus leaving a lacuna regarding who should benefit from the partial success of the APC at the poll.
National headquarters of the APC and the Presidency had thrown their weight behind Bello thus prompting Faleke to seek legal redress, saying he and not Bello should inherit the votes cast for the party.
However in its judgment, the tribunal ruled that Faleke lacks the locus standi to challenge the substitution of Late Audu Abubakar having not participated in the APC primaries that produced Audu Abubakar.
Also, the panel further holds that the constitution does not recognize independent candidates as political parties are the ones vested with the power to nominate and sponsor a candidate for any election.
It also added that the APC acted legally by substituting itâ€™s candidate due to force majeur as theÂ Nov 21Â election was declared inconclusive.
It is parties that win and lose an election and APC was duly invited by INEC to present a new candidate following the death of Prince Audu Abubakar.
Records before the court showed that Yahaya Bello participated in the APC primaries that produced Audu and emerged as the runner up.
Tribunal holds that there is valid material before it confirming the sponsorship of Yahaya Bello and having contested the primaries against Prince Audu, he was the best person to step into the shoes of the late Audu.