24 September 2018

Nigeria: PDP, APC Knock INEC Over Inconclusive Osun Guber Poll

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday bashed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over what they described as the negligence that led to inconclusive governorship election in Osun State.

INEC declared the governorship election held on Saturday inconclusive on the ground that the total number of cancelled votes was more than the margin between the two leading candidates.

The PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, scored 254,698, while the APC candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, had a total of 254,345. The total number of cancelled votes was 3,498.

The difference between the leading PDP and the APC is 353, which INEC said is lower than the number of voters in the affected areas. The total number of votes in the rejected areas was put at 47,843.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the areas where voting was canceled due to ballot box snatching, abscondment of presiding officer and other electoral offences have about 47,843 voters.

INEC national commissioner, who is the information and voter education committee chairman, Mr Solomon Soyebi, announced that Thursday has been fixed as a new date for the rerun election in the three local government areas. He said the decision was taken after a meeting by INEC officials.

He appealed to all stakeholders, especially the Osun people, to continue with the maturity and the peaceful manner they have so far approached the election.

The three local government areas are Ife North, Ife south, and Orogun.

The PDP accused INEC of conniving with the APC to manipulate the results of the election, while APC said the electoral officers (EO) and local government returning officers failed to firm up the results of the election before presenting them.

Chairman of PDP in Osun State, Mr Soji Adagunodo, expressed dissatisfaction with the result, saying the electoral body ought to have declared the PDP candidate as winner of the election.

According to him, the electoral umpire failed to address those areas where the PDP had issues, even as he expressed hope that his party will still win the rerun election.

Also reacting to the decision of INEC to conduct a rerun election, the APC frowned at the manner in which the electoral officers (EO) and local government returning officers failed to firm up the results of the election before presenting them.

Speaking on behalf of APC, Mr Adeosun Rasaq, expressed disappointment that given the calibre of people used as local government collation officers, the figure discrepancies in the results were unfortunate.

He however supported the decision of INEC to declare the poll inconclusive, just as he expressed optimism that his party will win the election.

On his part, the candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the inconclusive governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, alleged that his people's votes were again manipulated through vote buying and exploitation of the hunger in the land.

Omisore, in his reaction after INEC had declared the election inconclusive said only good governance and committed leadership can drive out the hunger that has been entrenched in the land.

He promised to continue to invest in democratic education and political awareness of the people to ensure that vote buying is totally eliminated in the most peaceful and democratic way.

In his thank you message, the SDP candidate said, "I am delighted that our message of good governance and dignity has reached every corner of the state. Over the past four months, I have worked with committed people who have given time and resources to our shared agenda for restoration.

"I am confident that while we might appear to have lost an election, we have won the greater victory; the clarion call by all our people for good governance and accountability. We have positively impacted on electoral campaigns and elections in Osun state promoting inclusion, people centeredness and shied completely away from vote buying, voter intimidation and thuggery.

"The SDP campaign was factual, informed and inclusive. Our manifesto presented to the people an Agenda for Restoration of Good Governance and Human Dignity".

But an international election observer group, Pan African Women Project, described the action of INEC as a welcome development.

Leader of the group, Dr Eno Udensi noted that it would amount to injustice to circumvent a laid down rule under any guise, adding that INEC has done creditably well and should not allow anything to tarnish its image.

She said though it was women that always come out to cast their votes, they would still be ready to make the sacrifice in the interest of good governance.

Meanwhile, INEC's returning officer, Prof Joseph Adeola Funwape, who acknowledged that the election was keenly contested, declared it inconclusive.

Funwape who is also the vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said it was as a result of the legal framework and INEC guidelines.

He said the irregularities that made INEC to declare the election inconclusive happened in seven wards, which cut across three local government areas namely Ife South, Ife North and Orogun.

The rerun election which will takes place on Thursday, September 27, 2018, will have all the political parties that contested in Saturday's election also participating.

According to INEC, in Ife South, there was malfunctions in two polling units that affected 1, 314 voters, while in Ife North, there was over-voting in one polling unit with 353 votes.

In Orogun, Funwape said there was disruption in three polling units affecting 947 voters, while in Oshogbo, the electoral umpire said no voting took place in one polling unit with about 884 voters.

PDP Rejects Declaration, Heads To court

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday rejected the INEC's declaration of Saturday's governorship election in Osun State as inconclusive.

The party's national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a press statement, said the party was ready to take all legitimate means to ensure that its candidate, Sen Ademola Adeleke, is declared the rightful winner of the election.

The party spokesman, who was flanked by the national organising secretary, Col Austin Akobundu, and national youth leader, Sunday Ude-Okoye, further urged the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to avoid the fury of the people by immediately reversing this fraudulent decision of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and declaring the party's candidate the winner of the election.

The party further cautioned INEC and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against derailing the will of the people of Osun State who have decided in favour of the PDP, saying that the fact can never be altered.

Ologbondiyan insisted that the process was conclusive and that PDP candidate, Sen Adeleke, who won a total of 254, 698 votes, was in clear lead and should be immediately declared winner by INEC, having met the requirements of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He said Section 179 (2) (a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is clear and unambiguous in spelling out the conditions for returning a candidate to the office of governor of a state.

"This section states inter-alia, 'A candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates - (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.'

"The declaration of the election as inconclusive by INEC is therefore a sordid robbery of the franchise of the people of Osun State, who participated in the election.

"It is obvious that having failed in their schemes to alter the final results due to the resistance of the people, the APC had to bear pressure on INEC to declare the election inconclusive so as to pave way for the perfection of their manipulative schemes, which the people of Osun state have firmly resisted so far.

"Instead of yielding to the evil machination of the APC, INEC should have summoned the patriotic courage to immune itself and end this needless controversy by returning the PDP and declare our candidate as the winner.

"The people of Osun State and the entire nation are already aware that the PDP won this election. They have the authentic figures from the polling units and know the candidate the voters prefer.

"The people, by their votes, have overwhelmingly declared for our candidate and we are not ready to accept any attempt by anybody to use any means whatsoever to steal our mandate freely given by the people.

"The PDP is for peace, but we will not hesitate to use every force available in a democracy to face any attempt to subvert the will of the people or rig us out in this election."

Meanwhile, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has warned that if what happened in Ekiti and Osun governorship polls were rehearsals of what INEC and APC were planning for 2019, then there might be no Nigeria afterwards and they should be held responsible.

He stated that after INEC robbed the party of victory in Ekiti State and asked it to go the tribunal, now in Osun State after the party won glaringly, they have concocted another story of inconclusive election just to pacify their pay masters.

The national chairman in a statement said that the INEC boss should be held responsible for brewing crisis in the country ahead of 2019 in his greed to satisfy the agenda of his appointees.

The PDP chairman wondered what President Muhammadu Buhari, who left the country to US for United Nations General Assembly yesterday, would be telling the democratic community when he cannot conduct a simple state governorship election.

"What other evidence do the democratic watchers and security agencies need to establish obvious bias from INEC when the commission's administrative officer caught destroying result sheets in Ayedade local government area where over 1,000 votes belonging to PDP were removed confirmed that he was acting on the instruction of his superior officer," he queried.

Meanwhile, an analysis on why INEC declared the governorship election in Osun inconclusive showed that the commission relied on Section 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) to declare the Osun State governorship election inconclusive saying that the margin of victory in the election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled.

Although the Electoral Act 2010 does not provide for "inconclusive" elections, it provides for postponement of an election due to threat of violence and other emergencies as reflected in the marginal notes as well as actual provision of Section 26 (1). Section 53 also deals with over voting.

Section 26 (1) states: "Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the election as a result of natural disaster or other emergencies, the Commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable."

The commission relied on Page 22-23 paragraph 4, M of its Guideline 2015, which states that where the margin of votes between two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the polling unit where the elections were cancelled or not held, it can decline to make a return until another poll has taken place and the result incorporated into a new form EC8D and record into FORM EC8D for declaration and Return.

Section 153 of the Act the commission relied on in Osun State empowers the returning officer to issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Act and for its administration thereof. Consequently the returning officer relied on the Commission Guideline 2015 to declare the Osun governorship election inconclusive.

INEC had in the past declared some elections inconclusive, especially since after the 2015 general election.

On April 12, 2015, INEC returning officer for the Taraba State governorship election, Professor Muhammad Kariey, declared Saturday April 11 governorship election in the state inconclusive.

He said there had to be a supplementary election because the total number of votes rejected and cancelled were more than the total votes with which the candidate of the PDP, Darius Ishaku, led the runner-up, APC' Aisha Al-Hasan.

According to the returning officer, the difference between the PDP and the APC was 54,881, while the rejected votes from some troubled areas were over 100, 000 votes.

On April 17, 2013, INEC declared the April 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra State inconclusive.

Announcing the decision to journalists and election monitors, James Epoke, the returning officer and vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, said the election was declared inconclusive because no candidate polled the statutory 25 percent of votes in two-third of the 21 local government areas in the state.

On April 14, 2015, INEC's returning officer for Abia State, Benjamin Ozumba, declared the governorship election held the previous day in the state inconclusive.

A total of 177,000 votes were cancelled in some polling units in the local government areas. The figure is greater than 83,053 votes, which is the margin between Messrs. Ikpeazu and Otti.

On November 22, 2015, INEC declared Kogi governorship election held on Saturday inconclusive

On April 12, 2015, INEC returning officer, Professor Ibidapo Obe declared Imo governorship election inconclusive due to the number of cancelled votes (144,715) in relation to the margin of win (79,529) by the candidate of the APC, Rochas Okorocha.

Ahuraka Isah, Joshua Dada, Sunday Isuwa, Tope Fayehun and Waheed Adebayo


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