Controversy trailing the November 21 Kogi Governorship election has taken a new twist as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday demands that its candidate INEC to declare its candidate and incumbent Governor, Mr. Idris Wada, be declared winner of the inconclusive poll.
PDP made the controversial demand in a communiqué issued at the end of its National Caucus emergency meeting held in Abuja on Wednesday.
In the communique read by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, PDP argued that its national caucus had thoroughly considered the development arising from the November 21 guber poll and the unexpected death of the All Progressive Congress (APC), candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Audu.
“PDP had resolved that with the death of Audu, on Nov. 22, APC had ‘legally crashed out’ of the governorship race in accordance with Section 33 of the Electoral Act”, Metuh said, claiming that there was no known law or constitutional provision that allows for substitution of candidates, once the ballot process had commenced.
“We are not trying to take advantage of Audu’s death. Nigerians will bear us witness that PDP observes respect to the person and image of late Audu, but this is the law of our land’’.
According to Metuh, PDP completely rejected INEC decision on the directive of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) , Malam Abubakar Malami, to allow APC substitute its candidate in the middle of an election. “The PDP insists that with the unfortunate death of Audu, the APC has no valid candidate in the election. This leaves INEC with no other lawful option than to declare the PDP candidate, Wada, as the winner of the election,’’ the communique read in parts.
The party argued further that if APC was allowed to substitute its original candidate, then, the party would have fielded two separate candidates in the same election.“This is a scenario that is completely alien to our electoral laws and to any known democratic norm and practice world-over.’’
Metuh said that if after voting in the Saturday’s election, Audu said he was no longer interested in the election, would INEC have told APC to change its candidate? “There is no different between the death and withdrawal of a candidate in our laws. Laws never separated it. This situation can be termed as withdrawal.
“If Audu had withdrawn on Saturday, election would have continued and Wada would have been declared the winner’’.
Metuh said that caucus observed that INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had lost the confidence of Nigerians.
He also restated the party’s demand for the immediate resignation of Malami, INEC chairman and all its national commissioners.
The PDP image maker added that in order to save the nation’s democracy from imminent collapse, the PDP would immediately challenge the unlawful and unconstitutional decision of INEC in the court of law.
“We are confident that judiciary will restore the proper tenets of our democracy and that this matter will be settled before December 5.
“APC cannot participate in December 5 elections because the time has elapsed for the party to substitute its candidate’’.
Metuh who stressed that the PDP had not in any way accused APC of killing Audu, however, questioned the rationale of AGF INEC and APC decision on the issue.
“They are creating a scenario where a loser in a primary will patiently wait for the winning candidate to finish election and have him either poisoned or assassinated before the final collation of results.’’
By Olisemeka Obeche