INEC fixes March 23 for extra polls in six states

INEC fixes March 23 for extra polls in six states

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will on March 23, 2019 hold supplementary elections in the six states where the exercises were declared inconclusive. The states are: Plateau, Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa and Kano.

According to a statement yesterday by Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, “supplementary elections will also hold in polling units in all states where state Assembly elections were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared.”

It added that details of the constituencies including number of polling units and registered voters would be published today.

Besides, to prevent a violent reaction against the declaration of the Kano State governorship election as inconclusive, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi has cautioned the stakeholders against making unofficial and false comments on the outcome of the poll.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) collation officer, Prof. Bello Shehu, had said that the election became inconclusive because the number of cancelled votes was more than the margin figure between the two leading political parties.

According to him, the incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje won in 28 local government areas with a total of 987,819 votes., while Abba Yusuf of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won in 16 local government areas with the highest 1,014,474 votes.

Despite the PDP clear lead with 26,655, the verdict for a rerun was made due to the number of cancelled votes which stood at 141,694 votes, higher than the 26,655 with which Yusuf is beating Ganduje.

Votes were cancelled in 234 polling units, including the controversial Gama Ward in Nassarawa Local Government Area.

Bello explained that the majority of the votes were cancelled, especially in Nassarawa, due to an invasion of the collation centre by suspected political thugs who destroyed electoral materials and carted away some original results sheets.

Earlier, the collation officer for the Nassarawa Local Government, Prof. Ibrahim Kalil Abdulsalam, who narrated how he was maltreated by the hoodlums, said the results sheets were carted away as polls officials scampered for safety.

Ibrahim said the incident occurred about 1:00 a.m. on Monday when the collation of 10 out of 11 wards had already been concluded. According to him, the security lapses at the scene forced INEC to order that the collation be shifted to the commission’s head office.

The police have confirmed the arrest of Kano Commissioner for Local Government, Murtala Sule Garo, and Chairman, Nassarawa Local Council, Sani Lamin, for allegedly leading the hoodlums to disrupt the electoral process at the collation centre.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Abdullahi, said the suspects were already being charged to court.

He revealed that the Kano State Deputy Governor, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, was rescued from the scene of the incident where he went for an inspection.

To prevent the political situation from becoming volatile, Emir Sanusi yesterday gave the caution while addressing journalists on the INEC verdict at his palace.

He reminded the public that the electoral umpire reserved the constitutional right to announce the results of elections.

Ostensibly referring to some unverifiable results of the Kano gubernatorial election flooding the social media even when collation was still in progress at INEC office, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria warned the public against any act capable of disrupting the relative peace in Kano .

“We should avoid doing things that will degenerate into chaos, more so announcing results that are clearly spelled out as inconclusive by INEC. We should also know that the original results by all parties are intact and cannot be tampered with.

“You should not engage in any action that will bring Kano to disrepute and destroy its ancestral dynasty. Everyone should allow INEC, the authentic and legally recognised body, to complete its job,” the monarch said. .

According to Sanusi, an election is not a war but simply a participatory exercise where electorate take their destiny in their own hands by voting for whom they want to lead them for the next four years. He urged the people never to attempt killing themselves for no just reason.

The monarch spoke as INEC announced that a rerun of the election in Kano will hold in 30 local government areas where votes were cancelled. The election will be held in 234 polling units scattered across 88 registered areas (wards).

Meanwhile, the Adamawa State chapter of the PDP has urged INEC to declare its governorship candidate, Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, as the winner, saying that the returning officer, Prof. Andrew Yakubu, declared the poll inconclusive in error.

Former governor, Mr. Boni Haruna, told journalists yesterday in Yola that the returning officer was not properly guided by INEC before he declared the election inconclusive.

He said that the ground advanced by Yakubu that the 44 polling units have 40,988 registered voters could not be transmitted into eligible voters because only those that collected their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) are classified as eligible voters.

Haruna pointed out that INEC records showed that only 31,027 registered voters out of the 40,988 in those 44 polling units collected their PVCs. He argued that since the PDP led with 32,476 votes, the party should, by law, be declared the winner of the election.

“To be an eligible voter is only when your PVC is with you, so since the number of those that collected their PVCs is lower than the number of votes with which Fintiri is leading Bindow, Fintiri is by law the winner and we demand that INEC, as an unbiased umpire, should correct the error of the returning officer and declare Fintiri winner,” he stated.

In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom and PDP candidate appealed to the people to remain calm following the declaration of the gubernatorial election as inconclusive.

Ortom, in a statement by his Adviser on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, expressed appreciation to the people for their peaceful conduct during the election and urged them to continue to be law-abiding.

According to him, the results of the governorship poll as well as those of the national and state assembly elections have demonstrated that the PDP remains their preferred choice.

The controversy over inconclusive elections raged yesterday with proponents of “Third Force” under the aegis of Nigeria Intervention Movement describing the development as a “brazen corruption of our electoral system.”

The movement’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by its Director, Media and Publicity Bureau, Mr. Debo Adeniyi.

Adeniyi said NIM had decided to resist the development with everything at its members’ disposal. He said the INEC’s strategy was meant to put a machinery in place for an eventual rigging of the elections as allegedly seen in the case of Osun State governorship poll in 2018.

“The political Third Force in Nigeria under the umbrella of Nigeria Intervention Movement warns INEC to desist from the antics of declaring elections almost won as inconclusive to enable its ‘favoured’ political parties to put a machinery in place for an eventual rigging of the elections as cleverly invented during the Osun State governorship elections last year.

“We alert the entire country that we of the Third Force are already exhausted by this disingenuous antics of INEC officials and have decided to resist this with everything at our disposal as it is a 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 said the movement would on April 3 announce a day of national mass action against all lapses observed in the 2019 elections. He urged all allied movements, parties and stakeholders to be on the alert.

Also yesterday, the PDP candidate in Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, was declared winner of the governorship election by INEC.

Declaring the results at INEC’s Office in Owerri, the Returning Officer, Prof. Francis Otunta, said Ihedioha polled 273,404 to defeat his closest rival, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA), who scored 190,364 votes.

The Taraba State Governor Darius Dickson of the PDP was also declared re-elected by INEC.

Ishaku triumphed with a total of 520,433 votes to defeat the candidate of the APC, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Danladi, who got 362,735 votes.

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