BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA – Kogi State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. MomohJimoh Adeiza has said the declaration of Osun governorship poll inconclusive by the electoral umpire has left Nigerians and other followers of political events in the country more confused.
The Kogi NUJ boss who likewise warned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to thread carefully as the country prepares for another round of elections next year said their recent decision is calling for revolts from the populace that may set the country on fire.
Adeiza was speaking in Lokoja on Monday at a one-day workshop on The Role of Media and CSOs in Anti Corruption, Transparency and Accountability in Elections organized by Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, in partnership with Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation.
He wondered what criteria or electoral guidelines, laws or constitution the electoral umpire apply in declaring the governorship poll in Osun inconclusive, while equally declared the recent by-election for Lokoja/ Kogi Federal Constituency conclusive, after cancelling results of election in 17 polling units.
“The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Haruna Isa polled 26,860 votes, as against that of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Bashir who secured 14, 845 votes; even as 19,960 votes were cancelled in 17 polling units and the difference between the duo was around 12,000.
“Since Nigeria is not a banana republic, there is need for the laws of the country to be implemented to the latter, not minding whose ox is gored; there’s need for INEC to be firm in handling electoral matters with a view to consolidating on the nation’s democracy.”
He equally enjoined the security agencies to maintain neutrality so as not to heighten tension in the country ahead of the coming general elections, insisting that a situation where somebody was cleared while contesting for senatorial poll, only to be confronted with certificate issue while contesting for governorship election called for serious concern.
Also, the Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Idris Miliki Abdul challenged the electoral umpire to explain to Nigerians, how come the result of the recent national assembly by- election in Kogi State was declared conclusive, considering the experience in Osun State.
“There’s need to make reference to the just concluded Bye-election of Lokoja/KOGI federal constituency conducted on the 11th August, 2018 and relating it to the pronouncement of INEC in respect of Osun State governorship election held on 22rd September, 2018. If INEC could declare that election inconclusive as a result of cancelled votes, in which the cancelled votes outnumber the difference between the two leading political parties as provided for in both INEC guidelines and the electoral law in Nigeria, on what basis was the result of the Bye- election declared conclusive by the same INEC in Kogi State.
“We call for a thorough investigation by INEC headquarters on all officials involved in that (KOGI) declaration. We call on the media to further investigate that declaration, and we challenge the INEC chairman to make further clarification on that declaration.”
Miliki further stressed the need for journalists to be vigilant and be fair in their electoral reportage so as to consolidate the current democratic experience, even as he enjoined them to work collectively with the civil society groups in this direction.