By Clifford Ndujihe
AS lawyers and stakeholders disagree over whether or not the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was right in declaring the Osun State Governorship election inconclusive, Vanguard in this story outlines what the constitution and Electoral Act provide in such situation and recalls the plethora of inconclusive governorship elections since 2011.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Candidate, Ademola Adeleke scored 254,698 votes, which are 353 votes higher than that of the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Gboyega Oyetola, who got 254345 votes. The INEC declared the Osun election inconclusive because 3,498 votes were expected in seven polling units across four local governments of the state.
INEC’s reasons for declaring the election inconclusive
In Orolu Local Council, there was disruption of the election in three polling units, which have a combination of 947 voters;
In Ife South Local Council, there was malfunction of Smart card Readers, SCRs, in two polling units, which affected 1,314 voters;
In Ife North Local Council, over voting affected 353 voters in a polling unit; and
in Osogbo Local Council, there was no voting in a polling unit that has 884 voters.
What the constitution says
Section 179 (2) (a) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides: ‘’A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a State shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates –
(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and
(b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State.
Provisions of the Electoral Act
Section 53 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 provides: ‘’Where the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceed the number of registered voters in that polling unit , the result of the election for that polling unit shall be declared void by the Commission and another election may be conducted at a date to be fixed by the Commission where the result of that polling unit may affect the overall result in the Constituency.’’
Section 53 (3) provides: ‘’Where an election is nullified in accordance with subsection (2) of this section, there shall be no return for the election until another poll has taken place in the affected area.’’
However, section 69 of the Electoral Act provides: ‘’In an election to the office of the president or governor, whether or not contested and in any elective office, the result shall be ascertained by counting the votes cast for each candidate and subject to the provisions of sections 133, 134 and 179 of the Constitution, the candidate that receives the highest number of votes shall be declared elected by the appropriate returning officer.’’
Timeline of recent inconclusive governorship polls
Imo 2011, 2015
In 2011 and 2015, the governorship elections in Imo State were declared inconclusive and were concluded with supplementary polls.
In the April 26, 2011 governorship election in the state, the INEC declared the poll inconclusive because election did not hold in Ohaji/Egbema, Mbatioli, Ngor-Okpala and Oguta local councils as well as in Orji Ward in Owerri North Local Council.
Before that election was declared inconclusive, results for 24 of the state’s 27 local government areas had been announced, with Chief Rochas Okorocha of the All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, leading in 12 local councils with a slim total margin over the then governor, Ikedi Ohakim of the PDP, who also led in 12 local councils but trailed Okorocha in the total votes garnered. After the supplementary poll, Okorocha scored 336,859 votes to beat Ohakim, who scored 290,490 votes.
There was a repeat performance in 2015. In the first election, Okorocha polled 385,671 votes compared to the 306,142 votes scored by Chief Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP. Okorocha led with 79,529 votes while the cancelled votes were 144,715 hence the need for a supplementary election, which Okorocha won.
The Anambra 2013 governorship election was concluded with a re-run after the first election failed to produce a clear winner. In the first results, the APGA candidate, Mr Willie Obiano scored 174,710 votes while Mr Tony Nwoye of the PDP polled 94,356 votes and the APC candidate, Chris Ngige had 92,356 votes. The margin of lead was below the 113,113 votes cancelled, hence a re-run.
In Taraba 2015 governorship election, Darius Ishaku of the PDP had 326, 198 votes in the first election while Hajia Aisha Alhassan of the APC scored 262, 381 votes. Elections were cancelled in the Donga Local Government Area of the state and in six polling units in Takum, and five in other local government areas, which total votes were more than Ishaku’s marginal lead.
Following the cancellation of 177,000 votes in several polling units in some parts of Osisioma, Ugwunagbo, Aba North, Aba South, Isialangwa South, Isialangwa North, Umuahia North, Umuahia south, Ohafia, Arochukwu and Umunneochi local councils, a re-run governorship poll was ordered in the affected areas. Before the election was declared inconclusive, the PDP candidate, Okezie Ikpeazu had polled 248,549 votes while the APGA candidate, Alex Otti, scored 165,406 making a difference of 83,053.
After election results from the 21 local councils were collated, the APC candidate, Abubakar Audu, 240,867 votes, led the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the PDP, 199,514 votes. The commission ordered a re-run in some polling units because the 49,953 votes cancelled, were higher than the margin between Audu and Wada.
Governor Seriake Dickson of the PDP had to wait for a repeat election in Southern Ijaw Local Council to win re-election in 2015. With results from seven of the eight local councils of Bayelsa, he had 105,748 votes, while Chief Timipre Sylva of the APC got 72,594 votes. The margin of lead was 33,154 votes. However, Southern Ijaw Local Council had 120,827 registered voters, a reason the INEC declared the election inconclusive.