With the death of the APC candidate in the Kogi State gubernatorial elections, and the INEC declaring the elections inconclusive, the stage appears to be set for a constitutional interpretations of the Nigerian Constitution to resolves these two unanticipated and unfortunate developments. In other words, a constitutional crisis appears to be imminent in Kogi.
Most Nigerians agree that the Supreme Court may have to give the interpretation of the law in this circumstance. Richard Akinnola, ace journalist and author believes that a constitutional crisis is on the way. “Audu’s death has thrown up constitutional issues and whichever side you look at it, there are going to be legal fireworks up to the Supreme court”, he said.
Akinnola said further: “Amaechi’s case may not come in handy, neither would Atiku/Bonnie Haruna Adamawa scenario come in handy because those were conclusive elections and the winners did not die, unlike this case where the election is inconclusive and the leading candidate dies. Lawyers would have different interpretations”.
Different interpretations has already started. While some are already stating Section 181 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), others refer to section 221 of the same constitution.
Section 181 states thus: (1) If a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as Deputy governor shall be sworn in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy-Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of Assembly of the State.
(2) Where the persons duly elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of a State die or are for any reason unable to assume office before the inauguration of the house of Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall immediately conduct an election for a Governor and Deputy Governor of the State. But this elections have already been declared as inconclusive, which makes this provision impotent.
Also section 221 states thus:”Now Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution provides: No association other than a political party shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election.
According to Ibrahim, section 221 “effectually removes the possibility of independent candidacy in our elections; and places emphasis and responsibility on elections on political parties. Without a political party a candidate cannot contest. The primary method of contest for elective offices is therefore between parties. If as provided in Section 221 above, it is only a party that canvasses for votes, it follows that it is a party that wins election” per Oguntade JSC in Amaechi v. INEC (2008) 1SC (Pt.1) 36, (2008) 1 SCM, 26″.
This argument presupposes that it was not Audu, but APC that won the elections. But in this instance, the election was declared inconclusive by INEC. This means no winner has emerged amongst the two major contestants.
The shocking reality is that it seems the law of the land did not envisage such circumstances that has just played out in Kogi State. It will take the Supreme Court of the land to give a judicial interpretation to the unexpected impasse.
However, the words of another lawyer, Lateef Abdulsalam is worth reflecting on. He said: “Election inconclusive but death conclusively end all activities of a human being. Abubakar Audu end of an era, he left outstanding issues to be resolved by the living ones who may be opportuned to witness how the political and constitutional impasse is eventually resolved.