The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday fixed March 23 for supplementary polls in six states where governorship elections were declared inconclusive after the March 9 elections.
This was contained in a statement issued by the National Officer and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, after a meeting of the senior management team of the electoral body to review the conduct of the 29 governorship and 991 state Houses of Assembly elections on March 9.
Okoye stated, “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, March 23, 2019 to conclude the process.”
He added that supplementary elections would also hold in polling units in all states where state Houses of Assembly polls were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared.
INEC, he said, would give details of the constituencies and polling units and registered voters of where the polls would take place on its website on Wednesday (today).
Okoye explained that the elections were declared inconclusive due to the discontinuation of the use of smart card readers midway into the polls, failure to deploy them, over-voting and violence.
He added, “In compliance with the margin of lead principle derived from sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and paragraphs 41 (e) and 43 (b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the 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.”
Okoye added that INEC would set up a panel to address the issue surrounding the disruption of the collation at the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
INEC said it would meet again to discuss the Rivers State case which it described as “peculiar.”
We’ll consolidate lead in run-off – Sokoto PDP
But while INEC management was meeting in Abuja, some women and youth groups had stormed its Sokoto office on Tuesday to protest against the decision of the commission to declare the state governorship poll inconclusive.
The protesters, who were armed with placards, were denied entrance into the INEC state headquarters. They, however, barricaded the major roads leading to the office of INEC, adjacent to the office of the Department of State Services.
Among the protesters are wife of a former governor of the state, Hajiya Jemila Bafarawa, three serving commissioners in the cabinet of Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Prof. A’isha Madawaki, Dr Kulu Abubakar and Hajia Kulu Sifawa.
Spokesman for the protesters, Muhammad Aliyu, who demanded immediate reversal of the inconclusive status, described INEC’s decision as injustice.
Aliyu said, “INEC decision is a strategy to deny the people of Sokoto State their choice but, we will resist their imposition. On behalf of the peace-loving people of Sokoto State, we hereby called on INEC to declare Governor Aminu Tambuwal, as the winner of the governorship election held last Saturday.”
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajia Sifawa, and her counterpart in the Science and Technology, Abubakar, said women from the 23 LGAs of the state were in support of their peaceful protests.
The PDP in Sokoto State, however, said it had set machinery in motion to consolidate its slim margin of 3,413 votes ahead of the APC.
The party as parts of it plans towards the supplementary elections as ordered by INEC had revived its alliance talks with other parties at the state level.
The Sokoto State Secretary of the party, Alhaji Kabiru Aliyu, who disclosed this to one of our correspondents on Tuesday said, “We have opened talks with 37 parties that made up the CUPP, for alliance and working cooperation ahead of the run-offs, as ordered by INEC.”
He added, “Discussions similar to what our party opened with CUPP are going on in the state as we are speaking and we are sure of a working alliance to our advantage that will ensure our victory.”
However, there was a lull at the APC secretariat and the official contacted kept mute on the possibility of an alliance.
One APC chieftain, who spoke to one of our correspondents, on condition of anonymity, said the APC was capable of turning the table.
He said, “Alliance or no alliance, we have the capacity and following to win Sokoto State. What happened was that there was little complacency on our part and such will not repeat itself during the supplementary election.
“We will use the opportunity of the supplementary elections to show that our victory at the presidential and National Assembly elections is no fluke.”
Inconclusive poll brazen corruption of electoral process – NIM
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Intervention Movement on Tuesday expressed concerns over the decision of INEC to declare governorship elections in some states inconclusive.
It described the development as “brazen corruption of our electoral system.”
Consequently, the NIM has fixed a nationwide protest against INEC for April 3.
The movement’s position was contained in a statement by its Director, Media and Publicity Bureau, Mr Debo Adeniyi.
He said, “The political third force in Nigeria under the umbrella of Nigeria Intervention Movement wishes to warn 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 governorship election last year.
“We wish to alert the entire country that, we of the third force, are already exhausted by these 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 governorship 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.”
Adeniyi added that the movement would on April 3 announce a day of national mass action against all lapses observed in the 2019 elections.
He asked all allied movements, parties and stakeholders to be on the alert.