As INEC obeys court order, suspends result collation in Bauchi
To continue collation in Tafawa Balewa council
Order, similar to moves that derailed June 12 presidential poll — PDP
By Clifford Ndujihe, Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Dirisu Yakubu
THE battle for Bauchi State governorship seat took a dangerous dimension, yesterday, with Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, warning the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, not to force it seek ex-parte order stopping the swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29.
The PDP gave the warning while reacting to an Abuja High Court order, which restrained Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from resuming collation of the governorship election results in Bauchi State.
Bauchi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Ibrahim Abdullahi, announced at a press briefing, yesterday, that it had suspended the collation of the results.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, earlier, yesterday, ordered the commission not to proceed with the exercise based on a motion by Mohammed Abubakar, the incumbent governor and candidate of APC.
After the March 9 governorship poll, INEC declared the election inconclusive and fixed a supplementary election for March 23.
In announced results, in which Governor Abubakar is trailing his PDP opponent, Senator Bala Mohammed with 4,059 votes. While the governor had 465,453 votes, Senator Mohammed scored 469,512 votes. Tafawa Balewa LGA has 139,240 eligible voters.
In Tafawa Balewa, PDP scored 40,010 votes while APC had 20,862 but the result was rejected because it was recorded in a replacement form without approval from the state returning officer. The collation officer had said suspected hoodlums took away the original result sheet.
INEC later reversed its decision and said it would resume collation of the results in affected areas, including Tafawa Balewa local council and thereafter, announce the winner.
In the ex parte motion, Abubakar prayed the court for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding or announcing the result of the Tafawa Balewa of the state.
The commission had initially listed Bauchi among the six states where supplementary election will hold on Saturday.
After his ruling, the judge ordered parties to appear before him today to present their positions on the substantive matter.
INEC challenges court order
Meanwhile, INEC said it had challenged the order of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering it to stop the collation of the governorship election results in Bauchi State.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education said the commission had filed a motion on notice, challenging the jurisdiction of the court in granting the order.
“The motion has not been taken. Until that motion is taken, the court order barring us from collating the result of Tafawa Balewa area subsists,” he said.
Order similar to moves that derailed June 12 presidential poll —PDP
Kicking against the order, PDP in a statement likened the development to the infamous order that derailed the 1993 democratic process, stressing that it was part of the plot by APC and INEC to escalate the crisis and derail the nation’s electoral process.
The party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan said: “The power to collate, suspend collation and or to reverse such decision based on obvious circumstances as the case in Bauchi is clearly within the domain of INEC.
“Until collation is completed and results declared, no one can question the constitutional powers of the electoral body, INEC, in that regard. If this desperate underhand measure by APC to halt the electoral processes is not checked, our hard earned democracy will fail us and our nation thrown into anarchy.
“Our party should not be forced into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar ex-parte orders to halt statutory processes, including the swearing in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Buhari.
“Section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act is unambiguous in its prescription that ‘nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election or the processes thereof under this Act pending the determination of a suit.”
It warned the electoral umpire to act within the ambit of the law even as it charged the judiciary not to allow its independence called into question.