By Emmanuel Aziken
The Nigerian Restoration Group (NRG) has lamented what it, yesterday, described as the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to grow along with the country’s democracy, saying the development in Kogi State speaks badly of the election body.
In a statement by its National President, Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure and National Secretary, Senas Ukaiwe, the group tasked INEC to immediately declare the first runner up, Alhaji Idris Wada, as winner of the election on the basis of the fact that he is the living candidate with the highest number of votes.
The group said: “It should be noted that after over 16 years of democratic governance, INEC should have grown beyond a baby-duck agency that could be pushed around by politicians with inordinate ambition.
“The commission’s actions, given the number of times it has conducted elections and the series of experiences garnered in elections management, should have made it grow in stature and pedigree to be able to always take decisions that would be obviously unbiased and survive the test of time.
“However, by pandering to the sentiments of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it is obvious that Nigeria is far from reaching the democratic destination which is what every Nigerian and indeed the international community, are clamouring for.”
“One would have expected the electoral umpire to follow due logical process in the absence of a legal procedure for resolving the legal logjam created by Audu’s sudden death, and that is by declaring the candidate with second highest votes in the election, Governor Idris Wada, the winner of the election.”
The statement added “Moreover, the provisions of Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010, explicitly states that votes scored by a candidate who died during an election cannot be inherited by or transferred to a person who was not a candidate at the said election and who did not participate in all stages of such election, for the purpose of concluding such election.”
The group said rather than import a novel non-constitutional process that could lead to intractable legal log jam, that INEC could have easily followed the letters of the Electoral Act, which remains the only logical approach and spared the polity of this needless waste of resources and envisaged consequential legal tussle.
“What was ordinarily expected of the commission is to have approached the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the relevant sections of the constitution so that it’s actions would receive judicial imprimatur”.
“Assuming, without conceding that what INEC did was correct, the Returning Officer must announce the name of the winner, not a political party, and it is candidate who is usually returned elected, not the political party. What logic and constitutional backing then would the Returning Officer for the Kogi State Governorship Election use to award Audu’s votes to this envisaged APC replacement?
“It is therefore surprising what he or she intends to which is why we maintain that the only logical step to take is to void all Audu’s votes, having been dead and buries, and announce the candidate with the next highest votes, Idirs Wada, as the winner,” they insisted.