23 April 2019

Nigeria: Anxiety As INEC Holds Supplementary Poll in Lagos On Saturday

Abuja — The electorate in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency in Lagos State will file out on Saturday, April 27, 2019 for the supplementary election to conclude election in the affected areas, which was declared inconclusive by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on February 23, 2019.

This was affirmed last Wednesday after a meeting with stakeholders. There were fears that the outcome of the exercise may further worsen the sour relationship between Yoruba and Igbo communities in the area if the election is not carefully and transparently handled.

Concerned citizens of the state and indeed Nigerians are already urging the commission to ensure that the Saturday exercise is fair, transparent and devoid of any practice that can cast doubt on its integrity to avoid another ethnic crisis that may possibly spread across Lagos.

Although, for the timely intervention of concerned stakeholders and 'providence', the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in Lagos nearly set the Yoruba and the Igbo communities against one another, a scenario INEC is expected to carefully guard against on Saturday.

The major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which candidate, Rita Orji, is the incumbent lawmaker representing the area, is not resting on its oars to retain the seat while the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Mr. Kolawole Taiwo, are banking on the party's victory in the last general elections to oust the incumbent lawmaker on Saturday.

While Orji may be banking on the fact that Ajeromi/Ifelodun is highly populated by non-Yoruba indigenes, Taiwo, who is a three-term lawmaker in Lagos State House of Assembly, is of the belief that Lagos politics transcends ethnic sentiments.

According to a political observer in the area, "As small as the election may look, it is going to be tough and INEC is expected to be at its best."

Meanwhile, a statement issued by Publicity Secretary, Lagos INEC, Mr. Femi Akinbiyi, said sequel to the order of the Federal High Court sitting in Kubwa, Abuja, on March 7, 2019, in respect of the Ajeromi /Ifelodun Federal Constituency election, held on February 23, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission has on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 declared the result of the election inconclusive.

The declaration was made at the Federal Constituency Collation Centre, Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Area Office of the commission in the presence of leaders of the parties, candidates and their agents. He noted that the election became inconclusive in compliance with the margin of lead principle where no candidate emerged a clear winner as a result of cancelation of election in 71 polling units affected by violence and over voting.

Akinbiyi said consequently, Saturday, April 27, 2019 has been fixed for a supplementary election to conclude election in the affected constituency areas.

According to him, "Election is to hold in 71 polling units and 18 voting points with a total number of 43,660 registered voters. The commission, therefore, enjoins all registered voters in the Federal Constituency to come out in large numbers to cast their votes.

The affected Registration Areas include Awodi-Ora, RA 02 with three polling unit, Wilmer, RA 03, with six polling units, Olodi, RA 04 with one polling unit, Tolu, RA 05 with 27 polling units, Ojo Road, RA 07 with two polling units, Alaba - Oro, RA 09 with two polling units, Mosafejo, RA 10 with 18 polling units and Temidire, 2 RA 11 with 12 polling units."

The statement further said polling would open between 8:00am and 2:00 pm on Saturday. Only registered voters in the area will be allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, Orji has decried the commission's plan to hold onto the result of the election just as she insisted that INEC's position on the issue was an affront to the rule of law. She said she was still at a loss why the electoral umpire chose to ignore a subsisting order of the Abuja Federal High Court, presided by Justice Bello Kawu, which ordered that the results of the poll held on February 23, 2019 be declared accordingly.

The lawmaker accused INEC's Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of working in cahoots with her rival Taiwo, to deny her well deserved victory, even as she urged Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu to toe the path of honour by adhering to the court's pronouncement. Orji claimed that of the 11 wards in her constituency, she swept eight with a margin of 11,000 votes in spite of alleged vote rigging, intimidation and harassment of her supporters on election day.

Her words: "We have the results of polling units by polling units. Anything short of the court's instruction is a nullity. Election held in Ajeromi Ifelodun and the results are not hidden. We have evidence to substantiate anything we lay before the Nigeria people.

"INEC should save itself of the impending embarrassment by some of its officials in Lagos. If APC had won the election, wouldn't INEC have declared the winner immediately. I won with a clear margin even though results in 27 polling units were rejected for no cause even when the presidency and senate's were sustained. We are aware they want to declare the results, which is not acceptable to us."

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