INEC fixes March 23 for gov run-offs in six states
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday fixed March 23 for supplementary polls in six states where governorship elections were declared inconclusive after the March 9 elections.
This was contained in a statement issued by the National Officer and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, after a meeting of the senior management team of the electoral body to review the conduct of the 29 governorship and 991 state Houses of Assembly elections on March 9.
Okoye stated, “The Returning Officers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states declared the governorship elections inconclusive. Consequently, the commission will conduct supplementary elections on Saturday, March 23, 2019 to conclude the process.”
He added that supplementary elections would also hold in polling units in all states where state Houses of Assembly polls were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared.
INEC, he said, would give details of the constituencies and polling units and registered voters of where the polls would take place on its website on Wednesday (today).
Okoye explained that the elections were declared inconclusive due to the discontinuation of the use of smart card readers midway into the polls, failure to deploy them, over-voting and violence.
He added, “In compliance with the margin of lead principle derived from sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and paragraphs 41 (e) and 43 (b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the elections, the outcome of these elections could not be determined without conducting polls in the affected polling units; hence, the commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in line with this principle.”
Okoye added that INEC would set up a panel to address the issue surrounding the disruption of the collation at the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
INEC said it would meet again to discuss the Rivers State case which it described as “peculiar.”
We’ll consolidate lead in run-off – Sokoto PDP
But while INEC management was meeting in Abuja, some women and youth groups had stormed its Sokoto office on Tuesday to protest against the decision of the commission to declare the state governorship poll inconclusive.
The protesters, who were armed with placards, were denied entrance into the INEC state headquarters. They, however, barricaded the major roads leading to the office of INEC, adjacent to the office of the Department of State Services.
Among the protesters are wife of a former governor of the state, Hajiya Jemila Bafarawa, three serving commissioners in the cabinet of Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Prof. A’isha Madawaki, Dr Kulu Abubakar and Hajia Kulu Sifawa.
Spokesman for the protesters, Muhammad Aliyu, who demanded immediate reversal of the inconclusive status, described INEC’s decision as injustice.
Aliyu said, “INEC decision is a strategy to deny the people of Sokoto State their choice but, we will resist their imposition. On behalf of the peace-loving people of Sokoto State, we hereby called on INEC to declare Governor Aminu Tambuwal, as the winner of the governorship election held last Saturday.”
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajia Sifawa, and her counterpart in the Science and Technology, Abubakar, said women from the 23 LGAs of the state were in support of their peaceful protests.
The PDP in Sokoto State, however, said it had set machinery in motion to consolidate its slim margin of 3,413 votes ahead of the APC.
The party as parts of it plans towards the supplementary elections as ordered by INEC had revived its alliance talks with other parties at the state level.
The Sokoto State Secretary of the party, Alhaji Kabiru Aliyu, who disclosed this to one of our correspondents on Tuesday said, “We have opened talks with 37 parties that made up the CUPP, for alliance and working cooperation ahead of the run-offs, as ordered by INEC.”
He added, “Discussions similar to what our party opened with CUPP are going on in the state as we are speaking and we are sure of a working alliance to our advantage that will ensure our victory.”
However, there was a lull at the APC secretariat and the official contacted kept mute on the possibility of an alliance.
One APC chieftain, who spoke to one of our correspondents, on condition of anonymity, said the APC was capable of turning the table.
He said, “Alliance or no alliance, we have the capacity and following to win Sokoto State. What happened was that there was little complacency on our part and such will not repeat itself during the supplementary election.
“We will use the opportunity of the supplementary elections to show that our victory at the presidential and National Assembly elections is no fluke.”
Inconclusive poll brazen corruption of electoral process – NIM
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Intervention Movement on Tuesday expressed concerns over the decision of INEC to declare governorship elections in some states inconclusive.
It described the development as “brazen corruption of our electoral system.”
Consequently, the NIM has fixed a nationwide protest against INEC for April 3.
The movement’s position was contained in a statement by its Director, Media and Publicity Bureau, Mr Debo Adeniyi.
He said, “The political third force in Nigeria under the umbrella of Nigeria Intervention Movement wishes to warn INEC to desist from the antics of declaring elections almost won inconclusive to enable its ‘favoured’ political parties to put machinery in place for eventual rigging of the elections as cleverly invented during the Osun State governorship election last year.
“We wish to alert the entire country that, we of the third force, are already exhausted by these disingenuous antics of INEC officials and have decided to resist this with everything at our disposal as it is brazen corruption of our electoral system by INEC in collusion with parties in power.
“We note that this style of mandate manipulation is again about to happen in the governorship elections in some states like Kano, which shall be resisted with a nationwide mass action in Nigeria to express our principled grievances against the obvious lapses in the 2019 elections.”
Adeniyi added that the movement would on April 3 announce a day of national mass action against all lapses observed in the 2019 elections.
He asked all allied movements, parties and stakeholders to be on the alert.
We will shock PDP, says Ganduje
But the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said the PDP and its candidate should prepare for a shocker because the APC had gone back to the drawing board.
The governor, who spoke through the state Commissioner for Information, Youth and Culture and Chairman, Publicity 2019 Election, Mallam Muhammad Garba, said, “The APC as a party has also re-strategised and very confident of victory because the local government areas where the rerun will take place remain the APC strongholds and the electorate in these areas have made up their minds to vote massively for the governor they trust.”
However, the state PDP governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf, has expressed confidence that he will emerge victorious anytime the run-off is held.
This was contained in a statement signed on his behalf by his spokesman, Sanusi Dawakin-Tofa, in Kano on Tuesday.
He accused the ruling APC of electoral fraud which he said was responsible for cases of over-voting which led to the cancellation of results from 172 polling units, thus reducing the margin of PDP’s victory which led to the declaration of the election as inconclusive.
Yusuf said, “Kano people have glaringly seen how the enemies of democracy who are high ranking officials of the state government, including the serving deputy governor, and others vandalised an election collation centre with a sole aim of truncating the declaration process to deny PDP of victory.”
He also said, “It is our prayer that all election offenders would be charged to court at the earliest possible time to serve as a deterrent to all anti-democratic forces.
“We call on all supporters to remain calm; we are known to be peace lovers and so we shall remain, as we are very sure of victory during the rerun.
“Our supporters should not forget that the PDP is already leading in the last count of the election and interestingly, the bye-election would take place in the strongest areas of our party.”
Emir of Kano calls for calm over inconclusive poll
However, the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II has appealed for calm following tension generated by the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election.
INEC had declared the Kano governorship election inconclusive following the cancellation of results from some polling units.
The number of cancelled votes was more than the margin of win between the winner and the first runner-up.
Sanusi made the appeal at a media briefing in his Palace, in Kano on Tuesday.
Tension had built up among supporters of the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC and his main challenger, Abba Yusuf of the PDP, following INEC’s declaration.
Yusuf had polled 1,014,474 while Ganduje garnered 987,819 in the keenly contested election.
Although the APC won in 28 out of the 44 Local Government Areas, the number of votes scored was not enough to counter that of the PDP which won in the remaining 16 decisive LGAs.
Some residents had remained indoors for fear of a possible breakdown of law and order as a result of the bitter campaigns.
But the Emir urged residents and citizens of the state especially politicians to avoid unguided statements capable of causing a breach of the peace.
He said, “The law empowers only INEC to announce results of election and that should be respected; therefore, those sharing results not released by the electoral body should stop it.
“INEC is the only body accorded the power under the law to announce election results and it has done that announcing the election as inconclusive, hence, there will be re-run.
“Politicians should not see elections as war but rather a contest that should be conducted in friendly atmosphere.”
Inconclusive polls: CISLAC seeks electoral justice
Also, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre has expressed concern about declaration by INEC that the outcome of the elections in some states as inconclusive.
CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said, “The apparent disproportionate declaration of the state electoral outcomes by INEC, especially across the states whose results are declared inconclusive calls for concern.”
Musa, in a statement on Tuesday, called on INEC “to uphold uniformity, equity and justice in the announcements to ensure free, fair and credible outcomes that will be acceptable to all.
“We are surprised at the fragmented reaction by the electoral body towards outcome declaration in the affected states, as such is capable of heightening electoral distrust and apathy. Nothing in the declaration of the elections inconclusive should be used as a means of subverting the popular will of the people.
“In recent times, the electoral process has been heated with a series of provocative statements, destructive arguments and negative utterances that can impair our national democracy, as observed in the emerging verbal attacks and derogatory statements trending among political parties rather than discourse on developments.”
CISLAC also demands immediate arrest and prosecution of any person or group of persons threatening violence or instigating crisis of any form during and after the general elections.
PDP woos CUPP for supplementary polls
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the Peoples Democratic Party has intensified talks with other parties in the Coalition of United Political Parties as part of the preparations for supplementary polls in six states where the governorship polls had been declared inconclusive by INEC.
The PDP is leading in five of the states; the All Progressives Congress is coasting to victory in Plateau before INEC declared the polls inconclusive.
The PDP had in 2018 formed a coalition with many opposition parties with the aim of ousting the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the 2019 elections.
Lalong, Useni set for Plateau supplementary poll
Meanwhile, the Plateau State Governor and the APC governorship candidate, Simon Lalong, and the PDP candidate, Jeremiah Useni, have also intensified preparations for the supplementary poll in the state.
INEC Returning Officer for the governorship poll, Prof. Richard Kimbir, had on Monday declared the election inconclusive.
In the results released by INEC, Lalong scored 583,255 votes and was leading in 11 local government areas. Useni got 538,326 votes and was ahead of other candidates in six local government areas.
Although the APC candidate had the highest number of votes cast, he was not declared winner as the 44,929 margin of lead was less than the total number of cancelled votes which the returning officer put at 49,377.
The supplementary poll, according to INEC, will hold in 20 polling units that cut across nine local government areas of the state including Barki Ladi, Mangu, Jos North, Bokkos, Pankshin, Shendam and Bassa.
The Chairman of the PDP Media and Publicity State Campaign Council, Mr Yiljap Abraham, told The PUNCH in Jos on Tuesday that the party was leaving nothing to chance to emerge victorious.
Yiljap said, “We have been meeting. At the state campaign council, we are at a meeting right now. By the time we are through with our meetings, I will brief you properly on what we are doing to ensure that we win the polls.”
However, the state APC secretary, Mr Bashir Satti, said that the party was not losing any sleep over the PDP strategies.
According to him, having scored the highest number of votes during the first election, it is only a matter of time that the APC governorship candidate to be declared winner of the election.
Santo said, “As far as we are concerned, we have already won the election. Plateau people have spoken through their votes which gave the APC victory against the PDP. We are not asking any party to go into alliance with the APC to enable us to win the supplementary governorship poll but our doors are open for anyone who wishes to join us in the party.”
However, state Chairman of the National Unity Party, Mrs Zulaiha Aliyu, while speaking with The Punch condemned the attitude of the APC and the PDP ahead of the forthcoming governorship supplementary poll in the state.
She said it was wrong for the two parties to think that they could win the governorship poll alone without going into an alliance with other political parties in the state.
Benue APC, PDP hold meetings
In Benue State, both the PDP and the APC held a series of meetings ahead of the run-off.
One of our correspondents learnt that one major step the PDP in the state was taking was reaching out to other candidates to form an alliance ahead of the run-off.
The acting State Publicity Secretary of the APC, James Orguga, said the party was very much comfortable with the declaration of the governorship election inconclusive.
He said that a lot of things went wrong with the election on Saturday. This, he said, would be corrected during the run-off.
Orguga said, “We mentioned so many places in Kwande, Logo, Ukum, Guma, Vandeikya but unfortunately only the voting in Konshisha was cancelled. Many places had cases that required to be looked into.
“So, we feel that the declaration of the election inconclusivewill give us time to prepare more and then, come back and make up for the inefficiency that was recorded during the last elections.
“We are still trusting God that the APC would emerge victorious at the end of the supplementary election.
“For now, we are not thinking of an alliance with any political party yet, but if there is the need for it, we will certainly call for one. So, for now, we are looking at the issue that surrounded the conduct of the election and we are still of the opinion that if it is a free and fair election, the APC would always win.”
But the state PDP chairman, John Ngbede, declined comment when asked if his party would consider forming an alliance with other political parties ahead of the supplementary election.
Ngbede said, “I am in a meeting at the moment.”
PDP insists on Fintiri in Adamawa
In Adamawa State, the PDP called on INEC to reverse its action by declaring the party’s candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, winner of the election in the state.
Fintiri polled 367,471 votes and established a margin win of 32,476 over the APC candidate, Mohammed Jibrilla, who is seeking a second term. Jibrilla scored 334,995 to finish in the second position. But INEC declared the polls inconclusive, stating that the margin of victory was lower than votes cancelled.
A former governor in the state, Boni Haruna, who addressed a press conference in Yola on Tuesday, said INEC’s action of declining to declare Fintiri winner of the election would not stand.
He said the electoral body which declared the election inconclusive erred because the number of persons with PVCs and who were eligible to take part in the rerun in 44 polling units is actually 31,027, although the entire total registered voters in the areas are 40,988.
While calling on INEC to recognise the PDP’s candidate as governor-elect and return him as winner of the polls, Haruna said it was inconceivable that INEC could take the action of declaring the governorship election inconclusive when the margin of win (32,476) established by the PDP’s candidate was higher than the 31,027 people with PVCs.
But the state APC has rejected the outcome of Saturday’s governorship poll in the state.
The party’s National Vice-Chairman, North-East, Salihu Mustapha, said there were serious irregularities associated with the polls.
The APC called for the cancellation of results in those councils which it said had been heavily compromised.
He said, “The election process was compromised in favour of the opposition evidently. There’s no way you will receive a result without querying the card readers. What we are asking for from INEC, is to use card readers in querying the results. The polling units cancelled represent less than one per cent of those areas where we complained.
“There is no way you will not select PUs where you didn’t perform well and just cancel. We are asking for a full inquiry of these electoral materials of these local governments. You will find out that elections did not take place in these local governments. People just sat somewhere and wrote the results.”
Bauchi to seek legal redress, APC backs INEC
In Bauchi State, the PDP said the declaration of the governorship poll inconclusive had thrown the state into “unprecedented confusion, tension and anger.”
Addressing a press conference at the NUJ Secretariat on Monday, the PDP Chairman, Hamza Akuyam, who was flanked by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and the party’s bigwigs in the state, said INEC’s decision was a deliberate plan by the government to “steal our victory.”
He lamented that the state Returning Officer, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, “without any prompting, complaint or request whatsoever” abruptly terminated the collation of the results even as the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Returning Officer, Mrs Dominion Anosike, had confirmed on tape that the elections had been peaceful, free and fair.”