The conflicting judgements by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the repository of votes cast in an election, puts the hope of Governor David Umahi on the balance.
On September 20, 2016, the Supreme Court affirmed Mr. Yahaya Bello as the validly elected governor of Kogi State.
The apex court had ruled that votes cast in an election, bleongs to political parties, not candidates fielded by the parties.
It held that a candidate contests election for the party that nominated him, “…he scores votes for that party, there being no independent candidate as of now.”
The Supreme Court justices added resolved that, the relationship between a party and its candidate could be likened to that between an agent and his disclosed principal.
“On this basis, the votes scored by the candidate belongs to the party that sponspored him at the election and therefore,
“Prince Abubakar Audu, who was the candidate of the 2nd Respondent and scored votes at the election could not have died with those votes since they belong to the 2nd Respondent of whom he contested the election.”
But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Edoba Omoregie opine that the two instances are different.
“In any event, the statements made in the Ameachi and Kogi cases are what lawyers refer to as obiter dicta which are inferior to stare decisis or reason for decision in the more directly relevant Atiku case.
“Furthermore, in 2018 a constitutional alteration was passed nullifying the Supreme Court obiter dicta in Ameachi and Kogi cases.
“The extant constitutional law is that no person can occupy office by default except he or she participated in every stage of an election.
“You can see that the target of the two dicta had nothing to do with defection but the candidacy of a political party and the votes cast for the party at an election.” The outstanding scholar submitted.