25 October 2012

Nigeria: Ondo Guber - Jega Declares Election Free, Fair

The chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Atahiru Jega, has declared the Saturday Ondo State gubernatorial election free and fair.

Reacting, yesterday, to the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the election was marred by electoral fraud with a vow to challenge the outcome at the tribunal, Professor Jega said that it was the legitimate right of any aggrieved party to go court if there were substance in his allegation.

Speaking through his spokesman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the INEC boss said that it was not his duty to react to specific allegations concerning the election.

He said, "It is not INEC's duty or role to answer the allegations by parties in the election; but honestly it is their legitimate and democratic right to take on issues. The test of the issues they are taking is if anything is proven in the court. INEC has done its best, we believe that we did everything that is humanly possible to make this election fair and we believe that the election is fair.

"Now, if people have issues for whatever reason, that is why the courts are there. The courts are to see whether those issues and allegations have any substance to them; so we wait and see whether there is any substance to what they are saying."

On the challenges they faced during the election, Jega said that his commission had never made any pretention to perfection, and Ondo election was not an exemption.

He added, "The truth of the matter is that the poll did not open on the dot of 8am at all the 3007 polling unit, that did not happen; but the gratifying thing is that by 9am, 70 percent of the polling units had taken off and that was very close to the highest we have reached before; so we did not attain perfection in this election.

"You will also notice that we had internal challenges. For instance, in one particular ward in Akure south; there was a challenge of late delivery basically because of the supervisory presiding officer; the approach he adopted in giving out sensitive materials was an internal thing to INEC; but that affected the process and we were not able to deliver materials early enough to all the polling units there and so those things happened."

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