By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Kingsley Fanwo & Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA—The wait for a new governor of Kogi State following last Saturday’s governorship election turned into a constitutional crisis, yesterday, after the leading candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu died after he had taken a commanding lead over the incumbent governor, Captain Idris Wada.
Audu contested the election on the banner of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and had won 240,827 votes to beat Wada who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to second place. However, because of the irregularities that trailed the election, polling was cancelled in 59 polling units, a development that led to the declaration of the election as inconclusive. Audu’s death is an unprecedented development not envisaged by the constitution and the Electoral Act.
The circumstances of Audu’s death in his country home in Ogbonicha were still cloudy, yesterday, but sources disclosed that it followed complaints of stomach ache that commenced about Thursday.
Sources said the condition which was first noticed in Lokoja worsened in his country home in Ogbonicha but aides were able to manage the prince to vote in the election in which he was standing as a governorship candidate for the sixth time.
His condition, however, worsened late on Saturday and by yesterday morning he had died even before the result of the election could be declared. An eerie silence enveloped the country home as family members waited for the results of the election to be declared far away in Lokoja.
Sources disclosed that at least two doctors from the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja and other medical personnel had been attending to him in his residence for some time and were with him until he died yesterday morning.
However, it was not until about 2.30 p.m. that suspicion on the fate of the APC candidate emerged to the outside world. That was when an ambulance from the Federal Medical Centre arrived to carry the corpse, but the ambulance eventually left without the corpse of the late Audu.
Among the early arrivals at the Ogbonicha country home were his running mate, James Faleke, Senator Dino Melaye, a former minister, Abah Humphrey; senior officials of the Audu Campaign among others.
There were suggestions last night that Audu, a Muslim, could be buried as early as this morning. APC chieftains led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu are expected to witness the burial today.
Earlier yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the election as inconclusive despite the commanding lead taken by Audu over Governor Wada, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The INEC, returning officer for the election, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, had announced Audu as having polled 240,827 votes to top the election with Wada scoring 199, 514 votes.
He, however, declared the election inconclusive on the fact that no party could be declared the winner since the number of cancelled votes was more than the difference between the APC and the PDP.
Though the election was peaceful across the three senatorial districts, the election was cancelled in 59 polling units across 18 Local Government areas of the state due to non-usage of the card reader, over voting, ballot snatching, violence and other irregularities.
Kucha said: “Since the number of cancelled votes was 49,953 while the difference between the votes scored by the APC and PDP candidates stood at 41,353, the election could not yet be declared as conclusive.
“Applying provision of INEC guideline, page 22 – 23 paragraph 4(m), the election will be re-conducted in 59 polling units across 18 LGAs”.
The breakdown of the result declared so far shows that the late Audu won 16 out of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state while Wada won five of the LGAs.
The APC won in Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu, Lokoja, Kogi, Okehi, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ibaji, Ankpa, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Olamaboro and Idah LGAs; while PDP won Mopamuro, Dekina, Okene, Ogori/Mangogo and Omala LGAs
The result of the election shows that all the major gladiators won in their respective Local governments, with the late Audu winning his LG, Ofu; his Deputy, Faleke won Ijumu LG; while Governor Wada won his LG, Dekina; and his Deputy, Yomi Awoniyi won his LG, Mopamuro.
A further breakdown shows that the. Governor won only one local government in the Western senatorial axis and two each from the Central and Eastern senatorial axis of the state.
INEC, before the news of Audu’s death, had promised to communicate a new date for the conduct of the rescheduled election in the affected polling units to the parties.
The following are the LGAs and numbers of cancelled votes: Adavi 2134, Ajaokuta 1406, Ankpa 6021, Bassa 742, Dekina 17,454, Ibaji 2665, Idah 310, Igalamela/Odolu 1501, Ijumu 705, Kabba/Bunu 1767, Kogi 1689, Lokoja 2854, Ofu 4679, Okehi 403, Okene 676, Olamaboro 2046, Omala 2526 and Yagba West 375.