—Calls for review within 7-days
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
Coalition of Civil Society Groups, CSOs, accredited to observe the March 18 governorship election in Ogun State has faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for announcing the results of the poll rather than declaring it inconclusive due to the number of cancelled votes
The coalition has also advised the electoral umpire to make use of the seven-day window provided by the Electoral Act, 2022, to make amends for the mistake it in the declaration of the election.
The group told INEC to justify the humongous amount that was given to it to conduct a credible, free, fair and transparent election.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the group accused INEC of circumventing the process, adding that what happened in Ogun State was a broad-day robbery.
It accused the electoral management body of going contrary to the Electoral Act that specifically said that when the cancelled votes are greater than the difference in the votes scored by the person with the highest number of votes and the person that came second, the election should be declared inconclusive.
The leader of the group, Chris Okike, said because the margin of victory is 13,852 and the cancelled vote is 33, 750, the electoral umpire ought to have declared the exercise inconclusive in line with its enabling law.
Recall that the incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner of the election having scored 276,295 votes as against the 262,383 scored by Ladi Adebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The CSOs maintained that by the Electoral Act 2022, “Where the difference between the winner and the loser is less than a cancelled vote, the results should be inconclusive.”
Okike said INEC, therefore, erred in going ahead to announce results, calling on the electoral umpire to explore the seven-day window authorized by the law to review the results to avoid unpleasant consequences.
Okike stated: “We are a coalition of Civil Society Organizations, accredited by INEC for the 2023 general election. We monitored and evaluated elections in many states across Nigeria.
“The recent outcry by many Nigerians across the nation cannot be overlooked. The just concluded election in Ogun State has amplified many errors regarding the pronouncement of the winner.
“We cite many errors with a coalition of results, vote inducement, overvoting, BVAS malfunctions and violence in many polling units as witnessed by our observers.
“The PDP got a total of 262,383 while the APC got 276,295. The Difference = 13,852. Cancelled vote = 33, 750.”
“We appeal to INEC to review the above claims. Nigerian society at the moment is a fragile state, and our democracy hangs on the decisions of those that have been given the authority to be the umpire.
“We ask the umpire not to be biased or partisan but to be fair and listen to the wishes of the people.
“We strongly condemn every and any act of violence and we call on Nigerians to remain calm as we believe that the electoral body will act regarding the issues mentioned above,” he said.
On why the CSOs were crying out over Ogun, the leader said they wanted to be sure that people’s mandate counts, saying that “what INEC announced does not reflect the wishes of the people because of the difference. INEC ought to have declared the election inconclusive rather than be in a haste to declare the result.”
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