By Clifford Ndujihe, Charles Kumolu, Egufe Yafuborhi, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu, Umar Yusuf, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Davies Iheamnachor, Femi Bolaji & Dickson Omobola
•INEC holds election in Adamawa, Kano, Bauchi, Benue others March 23
•Obi expresses concern over Rivers stalemate
•PDP flays BMO over President’s neutrality claim
ABUJA—THE Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said it would conduct supplementary elections on March 23 in states where the exercise was put on hold due to violence or other reasons.
The decision was a fall out of the commission’s meeting, yesterday in Abuja.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in a late Tuesday statement said the Commission met and reviewed the conduct of the 29 Governorship and 991 State constituency elections held on March 9, 2019.
In all, the commission had declared winners in the Governorship elections in 22 states.
‘However, the Returning officers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states declared the governorship elections inconclusive. Consequently, the Commission will conduct supplementary elections on Saturday 23rd March 2019 to conclude the process. Supplementary elections will also hold in polling units in all states where State assembly elections were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared. Details of the constituencies including number of polling units and registered voters, will be published on our website tomorrow Wednesday 13th March 2019,” he declared.
Okoye said the elections were declared inconclusive for a combination of reasons, mainly the discontinuation of use of the Smart Card Readers midway into the elections or the failure to deploy them, over-voting and widespread disruption in many polling units.
“In compliance with the Margin of Lead Principle derived from Sections 26 and 53 ofthe Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and paragraph 41(e) and 43(b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections, the outcome of these elections could not be determined without conducting polls in the affected polling units. Hence the Commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in line with this principle.
“Furthermore, the Commission has considered a Report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation at the Tafawa Balewa LGA collation centre, which led to the cancellation of results for the entire local government. The Commission found that there are issues that need further investigation and has set up a team led by a National Commissioner to resolve them”, he added.
This came as the polity was awash with flak for the electoral commission, yesterday, as it failed to give its position on the suspended Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers State and its declaration of the polls as inconclusive in six states.
While suspending all electoral processes in Rivers on Sunday on account of widespread disruption of elections conducted on March 9, the electoral umpire raised a probe committee it asked to probe the incidents and submit its report in 48 hours. The deadline ended, yesterday.
However, the INEC would make a proclamation on the Rivers election before Friday, Vanguard has learned.
Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said the committee was still in Rivers state as of 4pm, yesterday, adding that its report was expected to be submitted to the commission on or before Wednesday (today).
Vanguard gathered that the commission would consequently meet on the report and take a decision as to whether to conduct fresh polls in affected areas or collate results in areas where there was no violence.
Indeed, mixed reactions greeted the INEC’s declaration of the governorship elections inconclusive in six states and its delay in addressing the Rivers suspended polls.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, bickered over the issues yesterday.
Rivers APC, PDP bicker over suspended elections
The APC and PDP in Rivers intensified their accusations and counter-accusations over the suspended polls in the state.
Rivers APC in a statement by its Spokesman, Chris Finebone stated that despite not fielding candidates, it was actively involved in the governorship and state assembly elections as it endorsed the candidate of another party.
“Rivers APC was an active stakeholder in last weekend’s elections and the reason is that we formally endorsed and adopted the AAC governorship candidate, Awara Biokpomabo. We must establish our disapproval of the tendencies by a section of stakeholders in the polity, especially some supposed local and international observers who appear not to appreciate the onerous task security agencies are undertaking to ensure that Rivers people were able to come out and vote safely and their vote counted.
“We call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to redeploy Mr. Effanga from Rivers without further delay to avoid possible crisis that may follow the organised conspiracy being instigated by altering result of the 2019 governorship polls in Rivers State.”
The PDP, in its own statement by Jerry Needam, Media Aide to Rivers PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah, commended Gov. Nyesom Wike for the peaceful disposition displayed to ensure that the state remains calm and peaceful.
“We urge and believe the INEC and the fact-finding committee will remain firm on what is right and save Rivers from the turmoil being orchestrated by one man’s inordinate ambition to continue to rule the state through proxy.”
Release result of gov poll, Rivers women
Also, Concerned Women and Youths of Rivers State, urged the INEC to release the result of the governorship election, adding that continued delay in declaration of the winner of the election was dangerous to the security of the state.
Briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt, the spokes person of the group, Akaeolo Wealth, particularly expressed concern over the women, men and Youths who were murdered.
Wealth said the women and youths are tired of insecurity in Rivers State, and condemned the recent murder of security operatives including Nigeria Soldiers who were killed in Akuku Toru Local Government by armed thugs.
Obi expresses concern, urges international community’s intervention
Also, Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi expressed concern on the outcome of the governorship elections, particularly in Rivers State.
Obi, in a statement from his media office, yesterday, said the militarization of election which culminated in the relocation of a collation centre to a military base in addition to denying international observers access to the centre, were clearly unacceptable and amounts a grave breach of democratic norms.
The Vice Presidential candidate noted that the “needless involvement of the military has aggravated the situation in Rivers state” wondering the state has become of huge interest.
He flayed the what he called the harassment of the state governor, Nyesom Wike, saying his stewardship in the past four years rightly earned him the nickname, “Mr. Project” from an opposition figure.
INEC must stop declaring elections inconclusive for eventual rigging – NIM
In like manner, the Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM, asked the INEC to ‘’desist from the antics of declaring elections almost won inconclusive to enable its ‘favoured’ political parties to put machinery in place for eventual rigging of the elections as cleverly invented during the Osun state gubernatorial elections last year.’’
In a statement by Mr Debo Adeniyi, its director, Media and Publicity Bureau, NIM said: ‘’We wish to alert the entire country that we of the third force are already exhausted by this disingenuous antics of INEC officials and have decided to resist this with everything at our disposal as it is brazen corruption of our electoral system by INEC in collusion with parties in power.
‘’We note that this style of mandate manipulation is again about to happen in the gubernatorial elections in some states like Kano, which shall be resisted with a nationwide mass action in Nigeria to express our principled grievances against the obvious lapses in the 2019 elections.’’
Inconclusive elections, ploy to rig – Fadaka
The Southwest Zonal Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr, Ayo Fadaka, concurred with the NIM, and described the declaration of the governorship elections in six states as inconclusive by the INEC as a ploy to rig the polls in the affected states.
He said in a statement: “It is absolutely disappointing that an administration headed by an elder statesman, President Buhari will clearly set out to undermine the peace of the nation through the pursuance goals. This was not expected from a man who won an election and was not denied his mandate.
“The 2019 elections supervised by the Buhari administration remain the very worst in the annals of our history. The quest to subdue and disrespect our franchise was clandestinely planned by elements in the Presidency and its implementation began with the unconstitutional suspension of the Chief Justice of the Federation.
“It is common knowledge that in seven states across the nation, gubernatorial elections have been declared inconclusive for no other reason than the glaring fact that the PDP won those states. This is disappointing, dishonest and disingenuous.’’
We’re disappointed with inclusive election in Plateau – APC
The APC in Plateau State faulted the circumstances that led to the inconclusive governorship election in the state saying though the party is not afraid of a rerun but “fraudulent practices during election should not be rewarded with a rerun.”
The State Chairman of the Party, Latep Dabang, wondered why the State Collation Officer, Professor Richard Kimbir did not identify areas where elections were cancelled due to either failure of smart card reader or violence before calling for a rerun.
Stating his Party’s position at a press briefing in Jos, Dabang expressed confidence of widening the winning margin of 44,000 as the affected areas for rerun are “our strongholds” and appealed that the voice of Plateau people in the election be respected.
“APC is not afraid of a rerun because the affected areas are our strongholds where the opposition is labouring to ensure that the votes do not count. We will go and come out victorious, I can assure that the 44,000 gap will be doubled. Plateau people have spoken, their will should be respected.”
Speaking on the impending bye-election due to the demise of the APC Pengana State constituency candidate who had won the election but died shortly after winning, Latep stated though the incident is a sad one as he had spoken with him 10 minutes before his demise, the party will decide on the steps to take in line with the approved guidelines before the bye-election.
Why INEC must declare our candidate as winner in Adamawa – PDP
In Adamawa State, the PDP demanded the immediate declaration of its candidate,Umaru Fintiri as the winner of the governorship election.
The party stated that the INEC’s declaration of the election as inconclusive was untenable knowing fully that it’s candidate convincingly won the election with a wide margin of 32,476.
Former Governor Boni Haruna and a major stakeholder of the party told a press conference in Yola, yesterday, that the PDP has established that the number of PVCS collected in the 44 polling units are 31,027, which are less than the 32,476 votes margin the PDP candidate has over the APC.
However, Fintiri said that the INEC decision will not affect his leading position in the contest.
Fintiri told journalists in an interview in Yola that the reasons adduced by INEC for the cancellations in some polling units are being taken in good faith so that the electorate in those affected units can be given another chance to vote their choice.
Fintiri who expressed satisfaction with the entire process of the exercise urged his teeming supporters to be calm and law abiding.
In his reaction to the proposed supplementary election, National Vice Chairman of the APC in charge of North-East Comrade Salihu Mustapha alleged that the elections were marred with irregularities and fraud.
Comrade Mustapha who served as a the party’s agent at the collation centre stated that his party is rejecting the outcome of the exercise and will challenge it at the election tribunal.
Over 1000 women take protest to Sokoto INEC office
In Sokoto, no fewer than 1000 women, yesterday, stormed the Sokoto office of the INEC demanding the immediate declaration of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP as the winner of the poll.
The women, who were accompanied by over 1000 young ladies queried the rationale behind INEC’s decision to declare an election clearly won by Tambuwal inconclusive.
According to the annoyed women, the APC led federal government in collaboration with INEC since 2015 had continued to upturn elections clearly won by PDP in the name of inconclusivity. Giving reasons for their large turn out in support of the protest, a Permanent Member with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Hajiya Fatima Illo, said no governor in Nigeria has fair leadership mindset like Tambuwal. Backing her claim,Illo said Governor Tambuwal recognizes women by appointing three commissioners, four Special Advisers, six Director Generals, three Permanent Members and 69 councilors into the state.
PDP flays BMO over President’s “neutrality” claim
Meanwhile, the PDP, yesterday, chided the Buhari Media Organization, BMO, over the latter’s claim that President Muhammadu Buhari’s non-interference in the electoral process was the reason his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, lost in some states in the recently concluded governorship elections.
This is even as the party accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of conniving with the ruling party to declare elections in some states of the federation “won by the PDP,” inconclusive.
In a statement jointly signed by Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, BMO’s chairman and secretary respectively, the group attributed the loss APC suffered in some states, to President Buhari’s decision not to interfere in the governorship elections.
“It was unthinkable that a ruling party in Nigeria would lose crucial states so soon after winning a Presidential election. Nigerians are used to Presidents using their enormous powers to retain their party in power at state level at all cost regardless of the people’s will but President Buhari has shown himself to be different in spite of what his perennial critics want Nigerians to believe, “BMO’s statement read in part.
In a reaction to this however, spokesman of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said contrary to the allusion to neutrality by BMO, Nigerians have rejected the APC, saying their “loss” in the states that have been declared inconclusive, is a testament to the people’s determination to get rid of the ruling party.
He said: “The APC has been rejected by Nigerians and that again played out in the recently concluded governorship elections. If Buhari is truly neutral, we challeng INEC to announce the results of Benue, Bauchi, Kano, Adamawa, Sokoto and Plateau states, where the PDP clearly won the elections.
“Why are they holding on to Rivers state? Results in these states are in the public domain and Nigerians know that we won clearly.”
“INEC is in criminal accord with the APC and that is why they are so confused, especially in Rivers where they don’t know what to do next. But Nigerians have spoken and their votes must count.”
The publicity scribe urged Nigerians and PDP supporters nationwide to remain calm, stressing that no matter how long it takes, the party would not allow any state the people entrust to it to slip away.
Taraba govt extends curfew to 24 hours in Jalingo
Meantime, the Taraba State Government has extended the Dusk to Dawn curfew imposed on Jalingo, the state capital to 24 hours.
This came less than 24 hours after vehicular and human movement were grounded in the state owing to growing tension.
Senior Special Assistant to governor Darius Ishaku on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu disclosed the latest curfew in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement reads; “Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku has ordered the extension of the dusk to dawn curfew imposed on Jalingo, Taraba State capital, on Monday to 24 hours.
“ He also directed all security agencies in the state to ensure strict enforcement of the curfew.
“The curfew remains in force until further notice.”
At the time of filing this report, economic activities in the state capital is grounded as commercial banks, markets are on lock and keys.