:: Cover Story... Monday, February 27, 2017.

Case To Unseat James Faleke As Reps Member Thrown Out Of Court

The Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a suit by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its member Mutiu Okunola challenging Mr James Faleke’s nomination as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Deputy Governorship candidate in Kogi State.

The suit is on the ground that Faleke’s nomination constitutes double nomination as he retains his seat as a member of the House of Representative representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in Lagos.

The plaintiffs asked the court to compel Faleke to vacate his seat as a member of the House.

Okunola sought a declaration that Faleke’s nomination by APC as its candidate for the House of Representatives’ election of March 28, 2015 to represent Federal Constituency 1, Ikeja in Lagos State, and his subsequent nomination as deputy governorship candidate for the November 21, 2015, gubernatorial election of Kogi State, under the Ekinrin Ade Ward of Ijumu Local Government Area amounted to double nominations and, therefore, unconstitutional.

Okunola and PDP sought a declaration that the transfer of Faleke’s membership from Lagos to Kogi by INEC automatically terminated Faleke’s membership of the Ikeja Federal Constituency and consequently extinguishes his continued representation of the Constituency in the House.

But, the defendants said the subject matter of the action was academic as it was already decided at the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal where the plaintiffs lost.

In its February 21 judgment, Justice Abdulazeez Anka held that the intention of the draftsmen as it relates to Section 37 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is to the effect that double nomination is as regards one candidate being nominated to contest an election under two different political parties.

The judge said where a candidate is nominated for an election while still holding an elective position under the same political party does not amount to double nomination.

The court held that the facts of the case do not fit into the intendment of Section 37 of the Electoral Act as Faleke was nominated from the same political party and not different political parties.

According to the judge, only a member of the same political party that made the nomination can challenge the nomination of a candidate.

He held that it was an administrative function of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is the third defendant, to register voters and transfer their data from one constituency to another as provided by Section 13 of the Electoral Act.

Justice Anka held that the issue of whether the transfer of data by INEC of a registered voter from one constituency to another can constitute a ground to disbar a person from holding an office was academic as no law was provided by the plaintiffs’ counsel to show that a candidate or a voter whose data has been transferred by INEC would be disbarred from continuing to hold the office.

According to the judge, Faleke’s nomination as the deputy governorship candidate to the late Abubakar Audu in the Kogi election does not amount to double/multiple nomination and therefore not illegal.

He added that the plaintiffs’ action is non-justiciable, while Okunola lacks the locus standi to institute the action.

“The plaintiffs’ counsel intentionally avoided the provisions of section 68 (1) (d) of the constitution while placing heavy reliance on s. 68 (1)(b) of the constitution,” the judge held.

According to the judge, since the plaintiffs’ lost at the lower tribunal and the Court of Appeal, the suit was just another attempt at a bite at the cherry.

Justice Anka dismissed the suit in its entirety

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