The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday finally drew the curtain on governorship elections in four of the seven outstanding states, returning Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) as elected for second term.
Three states, Bauchi, Adamawa and Rivers, however, remain contentious.
In Bauchi, the Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) candidate, Senator Bala Mohammed, won the supplementary election held on Saturday, increasing his votes haul at the March 9 poll that puts him ahead of Governor Mohammed Abubakar, who seems to have lost out in the keen contest.
The only thing standing between Abubakar and eventual defeat is the restraining order he secured last week from an Abuja court, which restrained INEC from resuming the collation and announcement of the results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, a stronghold of the PDP.
That litigation is expected to be resolved today as the court listens to the PDP's position on the matter.
Supplementary elections had held on Saturday in some units in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Sokoto and Kano States.
The two leading parties, PDP and All Progressives Congress (APC), won two apiece. The ruling APC retained its hold on Kano and Plateau States, while the main opposition PDP retained Benue and Sokoto States.
Although the PDP sustained its lead in Bauchi, the announcement of the winner of the governorship polls by INEC is pending today's court judgment on the result of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area.
The presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described the victory of the candidates of the party in both Sokoto and Benue States as an acknowledgement from the Nigerian people that it is the only truly national party in Nigeria.
But his party rejected the outcome of Kano's poll, saying it was a rape of democracy.
Announcing the result of the Sokoto State contest at Maccido Quranic Institute in Sokoto, the Returning Officer, Prof. Fatima Mukhtar of Federal University, Dutse in Jigawa State, said Tambuwal of the PDP polled 512,002 votes against his closest rival, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto of APC who polled 511,660.
Mukhtar said Tambuwal having scored the highest lawful votes has been returned elected.
She added that the votes registered were 1,887,767; accredited votes were 1,083,413, valid votes, 1,036332; rejected votes, 31,662, and number total votes cast were 1,067,994
According to her, during the re-run election, PDP's Tambuwal polled 22,444 votes while APC's Aliyu scored 25,515 in the 135 polling units where supplementary elections were conducted.
She further explained that 49 candidates from other participating parties shared the remaining votes cast.
However, the APC agent at the collation centre, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, raised the complaints the party made to INEC earlier about the malfunctioning card reader at a polling unit in Tambuwal.
Dingyadi added that election was repeated at the polling unit, after lawful election was conducted on March 9 election.
The PDP agent, Alhaji Umar Bature, dismissed the objections on the grounds that the collation centre was not the right place to lodge the complaint.
Mukhtar noted the complaint and said that it would be reflected in the final report.
Reacting to his victory, Tambuwal said he dedicated the victory to Almighty Allah and the people of the state who found him worthy of their mandate.
He stated that he would run an inclusive government to improve the lives of his people.
"This is the beginning of good things that will happen to the state. I will not take the mandate for granted," he said.
He pleaded with his opponents to join hands with him in building the state, saying he is not better than them but in any contest there must be winner and loser.
The governor advised his supporters to be magnanimous in victory, stressing that they should not jeopardise the existing peace in the state.
In Benue State, Ortom of the PDP was declared the winner by the state's Returning Officer, Prof. Sabastine Maimako, having polled 434,473 votes to beat his closest contender, Hon. Emmanuel Jime of APC, who polled 345,155 votes.
According to Maimako, the margin of lead between Ortom and Jime was 89,813.
In his acceptance speech, Ortom said he has dedicated his victory to God by visiting the Redeemed Church of God, Gboko Road, where he offered prayers immediately the result was announced.
Wild jubilation greeted the announcement as major areas of Makurdi town were blocked by his supporters, who were singing his campaign songs.
Meanwhile, the APC has announced that it will be heading to the tribunal.
The party in a statement by its campaign secretary, Professor Eugene Aliegba, indicated that it would seek all constitutional and legal means to claim victory.
According to him, "Because the results announced in favour of Governor Ortom and the PDP is a direct product of brutal violence, vote buying, ballot-stuffing, results-falsification, non-use of the card reader and a range of other irregularities that have no place in our electoral laws; we are making it unequivocally clear that the Benue APC will explore all constitutional and legal options available to ensure the votes of the people count.
"In simple terms, we will make a case before the Elections Petitions Tribunal to subject the Benue governorship elections result to an integrity test. If we opt otherwise, we will be as guilty as those who undertake acts that undermine democracy. We have chosen instead to take action that insulates democracy from practices that threaten it."
In Bauchi State, the candidate of the PDP, Senator Mohammed was declared the winner of the governorship supplementary election held on Saturday in the state.
The result from the supplementary election collated in the 36 Polling Units in 29 Wards across 15 Local Government Areas of the state saw the candidate of the PDP won with 6,376 votes with his closest rival, the candidate of the APC and incumbent governor, Abubakar polling 5,117 votes.
According to the results announced by the State Returning officer, Prof. Kyari Mohammed, Senator Mohammed led Abubakar with 1,259 votes to emerge the winner of the supplementary elections.
THISDAY checks revealed that no fewer than 22,641 registered voters were supposed to vote in the supplementary election in 36 Polling Units in 29 Registration Areas (wards) scattered across 15 of the 20 LGAs of the state.
It would be recalled that the returning officer of the elections in the state, Prof. Kyari Mohammed, had in the early hours of Monday, March 11, 2019, declared the governorship election in the state as inconclusive.
According to him, the candidate of the PDP got 469,512 votes to lead his closest rival, the incumbent governor, who got 465, 453 votes, adding that the margin of lead between the two candidates was 4, 059 votes.
THISDAY had also reported that Prof. Mohammed had earlier cancelled the entire votes of Tafawa Balewa LGA, which has 139,240 registered voters, citing the failure of the Collation Officer, Mrs. Dominion Anosike, to use the prescribed form to enter the result of the elections collated across the local government.
This was despite the explanation given by her to the commission that the result sheets for the governorship election were carted away by thugs who invaded the collation centre in Zwall, Tafawa Balewa LGA, in the early hours of Sunday.
She had also notified the commission via an explanatory memorandum signed by all stakeholders in the election at the collation centre, who unanimously agreed to collate and record the result on another form, and addressed same to the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the State Returning Officer, which was submitted in Bauchi on Sunday.
However, Kyari, rejected the explanation and unilaterally declared that there was no result for Tafawa Balewa LGA and cancelled the election of the entire LGA even though there was no any incident of cancellation, violence or electoral malpractices at both the polling units and wards levels as reported by the Returning Officer.
The PDP candidate was in the lead after results of 19 LGAs were collated, with the incumbent governor trailing behind with a margin of over 4,000 votes.
In the contentious Tafawa Balewa LGA, the PDP had scored 40,000 votes against the APC's 29,000, putting the PDP ahead with about 15,000 votes.
Announcing the results of the supplementary elections yesterday, the Returning Officer, Prof. Mohammed said: "As you well know, I cannot make a return because I understand that the case of Tafawa Balewa LGA is in court."
The Federal High Court, Abuja will deliver a final judgment on the results of Tafawa Balewa LGA today
APC Retains Kano, Plateau Governorship Seats
Governor Lalong of Plateau State was declared winner of the rerun gubernatorial election in the state after gathering 595,582 votes to his closest rival, Jeremiah Useni, a retired Army General and candidate of PDP's, 546,813 votes.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Richard Kimbir, presented the result yesterday in Jos on behalf of the INEC.
"The valid votes totalled 1,159,954, with the rejected votes standing at 16,188, while the total votes cast was 1,176,142," he said.
The margin of victory between Lalong and Useni is 48,769 votes.
The gubernatorial election held on March 9 in Plateau was declared inconclusive.
This had led to a rerun election in 40 polling units in nine local government areas of the state.
In Kano, Ganduje was declared winner, scoring 1,033,695 votes to his closest rival of the PDP, Abba Yusuf's 1,024,713.
But the PDP yesterday rejected the Kano result, insisting that its candidate, Yusuf, was the rightful winner of the election and said any declaration that did not reflect such cannot stand.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said the so-called governorship supplementary election in Kano was a national disgrace and a mere figure allocating exercise by compromised INEC officials, who collaborated with power drunk politicians in the APC to award results to the APC candidate.
The party, therefore, cautioned INEC against any attempt to import contrived figures from the March 23 rerun as such would be a clear recipe for anarchy and serious crisis in the state.
Ologbondiyan stated: "The whole world knows that the PDP and its candidate, Abba Yusuf, won the Kano State governorship election since March 9, 2019, having fulfilled the constitutional requirement of securing the highest number of votes and the statutory 25 per cent in two-third of the state.
"The people of Kano State have a long history of firm resistance against corrupt and oppressive forces. Their will must, therefore, not be stretched in this election.
"The Kano people have abundantly expressed their rejection of the corrupt and incompetent government of Abdullahi Ganduje and his party, the APC, and no amount of machination can cow or force them to abandon their resolve for a new "governor in Abba Yusuf."
Atiku Congratulates Tambuwal, Ortom
In a related development, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described the victories of the candidates of the party in both Sokoto and Benue States as an acknowledgement from the Nigerian people that it is the only truly national party in Nigeria.
Atiku congratulated Tambuwal on his re-election and assured the good people of Sokoto State that they have made the right decision that would see them continue on the path of peace, progress and prosperity.
The former vice president also congratulated Ortom over his re-election, stressing that Ortom is not just a credit to the party, but also an epitome of servant leadership.
According to him, "With him again at the helm of affairs in Benue, the people of the "Breadbasket of the Nation" can look forward to times of refreshing and deliverance."
Atiku also congratulated his party and all its members on these gains, adding that PDP is the true bastion of democracy and should be encouraged by these victories.
He said: "With unity within its midst, it will together continue to extend the boundaries of democracy and shrink the space occupied by tyranny."
Atiku, however, shares solidarity with Alhaji Bala Mohammed and Abba Kabir Yusuf, who have made a great showing in Bauchi and Kano States, respectively, saying victory is within reach.
He said they have shown that they are men of the people, while expressing confidence that much good would come out of these men of enviable talents and leadership ability.
INEC, Situation Room Condemn Violence that Characterised Supplementary Elections
Meanwhile, INEC has condemned the electoral violence that characterised the supplementary elections held in some states of the federation.
The supplementary election held on Saturday was described by election observers as a show of shame especially in Kano and Benue States as thugs allegedly supported by some security agents and the ruling APC in the state took over some polling units and chased away voters perceived to be sympathetic to opposition party.
In Kano State, where supplementary governorship was held in 21 local government areas of the state, political thugs chased away voters perceived to be from opposition party.
It was also reported that there was brazen display of weapons by supporters of both parties.
Journalists covering the election too were not spared as some of them were attacked by political thugs.
The situation was the same in Benue State as political thugs destroyed and burnt ballot papers and boxes in some parts of the state where the supplementary election took place.
Also, the local government collation officer for Gboko Local Government Area, Comfort Doshima, was shot by unknown gunmen in Makurdi.
Doshima, a professor and lecturer at the University of Agriculture was on her way to the INEC headquarters, Makurdi, to present results from the local government.
She was rushed to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, but was later pronounced dead.
However, in an interview with THISDAY yesterday, the Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, insisted that violence negates the tenets if democracy.
According to him, "Violence in any election negates the very tenets of democracy, so is condemnable."
Despite the electoral body condemning the spate of violence that marred the election, it did not cancel any polling unit distrusted by political thugs.
Also against the violence was the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Which expressed concern over the inability of security forces to stem the incidents of political thuggery and intimidation recorded during the supplementary election in Kano state at the weekend.
The election observer group advised that INEC to ensure that measures are taken to discourage the conduct supplementary elections in future due to the violence and malpractices that is associated with the exercise.
It accused politicians and some officials of the electoral umpire of using the opportunity of such supplementary elections to perpetrate rigging and violence.
While presenting the preliminary report of the group on the supplementary election, the Concerned of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo said the exercise were marred by violence, thuggery and outright intimidation of the electorate by criminal elements.
He added that what was more worrisome is the fact that in some cases such criminality went on despite the presence of security agents.
Nwankwo made particular reference to incidents in Kano state where he said unaccredited party agents and political thugs flooded the polling units and beat up innocent voters.
He said: "Situation Room is further puzzled by the situation in Kano State wherein the deployment of senior Police Officers could not stem the incidents of political thuggery and intimidation. Reports received from our observers showed instances where security personnel, most especially the Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, where challenging security situations were met with inaction."
He said members of the observer coalition reported incidents in Beli Ward in Rogo Local Government and in Gama Ward in Nasarawa Local Government of Kano state.
According to Nwankwo who was flanked during the press conference in Abuja by alternate chairman of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Esther Uzoma, said it is a cause for concern that "abuses of electoral process and violence have occurred despite the deployment of top-level Police officials, including a Deputy Inspector General (DIG), 3 Assistant Inspectors General and Commissioners of Police".
"In the previous elections, the state Commissioner of Police took charge without senior level officers. It is therefore ironic and curious that this level of violence and political thuggery would occur with this quantum of senior Police Officers deployed. Situation Room has always advocated against redeployment of Commissioners of Police ahead of elections."
The Situation Room also said that there were reports of widespread vote buying in Kano and Bauchi States.
It said the incident was more prevalent in Gama Ward, Nasarawa Local Government of Kano State, as seen in PU 035 and was also observed in PU 013, Madangala Ward, Katagum Local Government of Bauchi State.
According to the group, there were reported cases of attempted inducement of observers with cash by agents of leading political parties.
The Situation Room however said that voting took place in relative peace throughout other areas that the supplementary election took place last Saturday.
It also said that this time, the deployment of the military were done in accordance with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010.