By Dayo Benson, Innocent Anaba and Abdulwahab Abdulah

Tuesday, April 26,governorship election, which took place in 24 out of 36 states of the federation has spawned a new challenge to the nation’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. The poll was concluded in 23 states and results were duly announced. Some winners have been basking in euphoria of their victory, some losers have accepted the outcome and congratulated their opponents. However, there are others who had vowed to challenge the results at the governorship election petition tribunals.

But Imo State is a totally different case, where INEC has scheduled a supplementary election for tomorrow. The commission had declared the first ballot inconclusive. Since last week, both the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, have been talking tough. So also their candidates, Governor Ikedi Ohakim and his main opponent, Chief Rochas Okorocha.

From results announced so far, PDP has won 11 local government while APGA has 12 in its kitty.

Results in the remaining four local governments areas are contentious, hence the election was declare inconclusive.

Thus, tomorrow’s supplementary poll is to enable clear winner emerge. But APGA’s had earlier argued that its candidate had won the election being satisfied the provision of S.179 of the Electoral Act which provides that a winner must score lawful majority vote and 25 percent of the total votes cast in two-third local governments of the state.

However, the main issue is constitutionality and legality of tomorrow’s supplementary poll which is unknown to both the constitution and the Electoral Act. Specifically, S.178 of the 1999 Constitution provides that “ (1) An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission. (2)

An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office”…. By implication, all governorship election ought to have been concluded by Friday April 29; that is, going by the letters of the constitution. But somehow, INEC found a new legal route in supplementary poll.

Legal practitioners have different opinions on the issue. There are those who argued that the supplementary election is part of the process that started in compliance with the constitution. But others contend that tomorrow’s exercise is illegal since the minimum 30 days have lapsed.

Speaking on the issue, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, said, “The supplementary election is clearly illegal.

The election held on April 26 had met the provisions of S.179 of the Electoral Act which says that the winner must have majority of lawful votes cast and 25 pe-cent votes in two third of the local government areas in the state. So what they need to do is to comply with the provisions of S.179 of the Act and declare the result of the 23 local governments that they have, because a winner has already emerged.

They should declare the results they have and whoever is dissatisfied can go to the governorship election petition tribunal to challenge the result. What they are doing now is too late because the constitution says election must hold not later than 30 days to the end of incumbent tenure.

Rochas Okorocha of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. and Ikedi Ohakim of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

There is something ominous about the whole thing, in the sense that what is happening now is the same thing they did to the same APGA people in 2007 when governorship and house of assembly votes were cast in the same ballot box and INEC cancelled the governorship result and upheld that of the state assembly despite the fact that the same ballot box was used for the two elections.

I think we should be careful not to overstretch the law by trying to please individuals. So, as far as I’m concerned, what they want to do on Friday is unconstitutional because the election had been successfully held and they should announce the result.

For former NBA, President, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, “I am keen that we all want to save the electoral process and if we agree that the electoral process in Imo State started within the constitutional time frame, my point is therefore, that the constitution did not give a date within which the election must be concluded. So, I believe that the supplementary election ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for Imo State is not illegal, since it is aimed at concluding the process.

Mr. Emeka Ngige, SAN, in his view, submitted that, “When election cannot go on in certain areas, the INEC can postponed the election until the situation is normalize in such areas. There is no breach of the constitution or the Electoral Act by the supplementary election in Imo State.

The constitution says election shall hold not less than 30 days to the expiration of the tenure of the occupier of the governor office. INEC has started the electoral process which it wants to rectify and put in order. Since INEC has commenced election on the 26 of April, there is strong a strong legal ground for the commission to do that.

Once the election has been held in some other local governments leaving only four councils, it has complied with the provisions of the law. To me, those elections being held is to compliment the existing ones and make it a whole and that is what is left is for INEC to declare somebody a winner. How can you declare somebody winner when the results you are having in four councils is enough to tilt the scale of victory to either of the political parties with highest votes.

If you gives the results to Okorocha he will win, if the commission gives it to Ohakim, he will win. The other option the INEC has as some people are suggesting is to declare the election deadlock and make the Speaker of the House the Governor and conduct another election latter. To me, it is like they are making the matter more complicated.

Others suggested that the INEC suppose to declare one of them as the winner and allow the election tribunal to sort it out or order a re-run. So, to conduct a re-run or conduct a fresh election, is it not the same thing? It will still follow same process. I want you to also remember that the issue of supplementary election is also the making of the court, which held in the case of Labour Party vs INEC in Ondo State. Also, in the case of Adamawa governorship tussle, the Supreme Court recognizes that there is something known as supplementary election or re-run. This means, that election does not hold in certain areas and it is being held to complement what has been commenced and not concluded.

If you remember, the Court of Appeal ordered INEC to conduct supplementary elections in some local governments in Ekiti State. So, the step taken by INEC is in order and did not run contrary to any known law.

The only thing there, is that the incumbent governor may go and spend more money to buy voters at the expense of his opposition, who may not have so much money to throw around.

A Lagos Lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Jiti Ogunye says, “Supplementary election is not the main election, this means that the main election has been concluded and that there is an aspect that remains to be finalized.

In the case of Fayemi vs Oni and PDP in Ekiti, the Court of Appeal said, the INEC should hold the election to fill those areas where elections were rigged to make up the units. Because of the critical situation that INEC has found itself in those areas, so, it is better to hold election in those areas regarded as supplementary.

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