By Sadiq Umar, Abuja – There are indications that the All Progressive Congress (APC) may have considered fielding Yahaya Bello, the runner up aspirant in the primary that produced the late Governorship Candidate, Audu Abubakar, in the supplementary election slated for December 5.
Bello, a younger candidate believed to be equally popular had lost in the race for the party ticket to Abubakar.
There have been divergent opinions on the options before the APC since the death last Saturday of its candidate in the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi state.
Dropping the hint of APC’s move Tuesday in Abuja, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the candidate that came second may have to be considered as a substitute candidate since the primary conducted by the APC prior to the election remains valid.
The Attorney General who spoke at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission on the reform of the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, ruled out the option of fresh primary as suggested in some quarters.
He said “a further consideration would be the idea of conducting another primary but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries”
“The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear that in case of death, the right for substitution by political a political party is sustained by the provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act,” Malami said.
Adding, “And if you have a community reading of that section with section 221 of the constitution which clearly indicates that the right to vote is the right of a political party and the party in this case, the APC has participated in the conduct of the election.
“It is therefore apparent that the combination community reading of the two provisions does not leave any room for conjecture.
“APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes that were cast were cast in favour of the APC.
“Arising from that deduction, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear, APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it.
“The supplementary election has to be conducted along the line.”
Asked if that substitution should automatically benefit the deputy governorship candidate, he said:
“It all depends on the appreciation of issues arising from the primaries conducted before now.
“There was a first and a second candidate. Those primaries that had taken place over time had not by anyway been nullified. And it is recognized by law.
“But then a further consideration would be the idea of conducting another primary but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries,” he declared.