Tension over Supplementary Poll Result

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Yakubu

The results of the supplementary election of Saturday, March 23, in four states declared so far put the leading two at neck-and-neck

By Olu Ojewale

The result of the supplementary governorship election held on Saturday, March 23, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday, March 24, showed that the two dominant parties won the poll. The states where the governorship run-off poll took place on Saturday, March 23 are Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto. There was no election in Adamawa as expected because of the court order against the exercise.

Also because of a court order, the INEC could not declare a winner of the governorship poll in Bauchi.

Nevertheless, the election results declared by the INEC on Sunday, March showed that all the incumbent governors were declared winners in their respective states. Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State; Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State were declared victorious in their states.

Ortom, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had a hard battle against Emmanuel Jime, the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC. In the end, Sebastine Maimako, the Benue State governorship returning officer declared Ortom as the winner of the governorship election. Maimako said the governor polled 434,473 votes to defeat Jime, his closest opponent, who got 345,155 votes.

Ortom had during the governorship election on March 9, polled 410,576 votes, while Jime received 329,022 votes. In the supplementary election results of March 23, Ortom polled 23,897 votes while Jime got 16,133 votes.

In his analysis of how Ortom won the poll, Maimako said: “Number of total registered voters is 2,471,894 while accredited voters are 858,947, number of valid votes is 830,954, rejected votes, 15,268 and the number of total votes cast is 846,222.

“Ortom scored 434,473 votes while Jime scored 345,155 votes. That Samuel Ortom of the PDP, having satisfied the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.”

But Jime kicked against the election result saying that the governor’s re-election could not stand any legal scrutiny. In a statement by Eugene Aliegba, the secretary of his campaign organisation, Jime said he would “recover my stolen” and that Ortom’s victory was a direct product of violence and vote-buying, which he said, should not be allowed to stand.

The APC candidate said: “And because the results announced in favour of governor Ortom and the PDP are a direct product of brutal violence, vote-buying, ballot-stuffing, result-falsification, non-usage of the card reader and a range of other irregularities that have no place in our electoral laws, we are making it unequivocally clear that the Benue APC will explore all constitutional and legal options available to ensure the votes of the people count.

“In simple terms, we will make a case before the Election Petitions Tribunal to subject the Benue governorship election results to an integrity test.”

Kano State

The PDP opposition party in Kano State is also questioning the integrity of the supplementary election results which gave Ganduje victory in Kano State. Ganduje was on Sunday, March 24, declared the winner of the governorship election after he garnered 1,033,695 votes to beat Abba Yusuf, the PDP candidate, who scored 1,024,713 votes.

The declaration made by Bello Shehu, the state INEC returning officer, showed that Ganduje won with 8,982 vote margin.

In the main election of March 23, Ganduje had scored 987,819 votes and trailed Yusuf, who got 1,014,474 votes at the time. Yusuf had then led with more than 26,000 votes.

However, in the supplementary poll, the governor got additional 45,876 votes to cancel the lead and bring his final tally to 1,033,695, while Yusuf garnered additional 10,239 votes from the run-off election to bring his overall total 1,024,713.

But before of the announcement of the final results, supporters of the two leading parties were hotly engaged in an altercation over the outcome of the re-run poll. The clash centred on the collated results of Nasarawa, a key local government area where 38,181 voters registered in Gama Ward. The APC was declared winner in Gama by polling 10,536 votes to the PDP’s 3,409 ballots.

But the PDP members at the collation centre protested, saying that election did not hold in the ward. They also demanded the cancellation of the entire supplementary election on the grounds that it was marred by violence and other forms of “fraudulent practices.”

Ali Madaki, a PDP member of the House of Representatives from Dala in Kano, who led the protest, pointedly told the returning officer to stop the collation of the results. Madaki said in a press interview: “What happened in Kano was not an election; the fraud did not pass the integrity test. In Gama, and most parts of Kano State, there was no election, rather it was thuggery aided by the state government. What you call an election should be cancelled.

“As I speak, INEC (members of staff) and party agents are fighting over the results of Gama. We have cases where results were written for polling units where nothing took place at all.”

Madaki berated the INEC and the university lecturers, who served as electoral officials. He said he could not believe that professors “can cook the lies and fraud you call an election in Kano.”

As the shouting match continued, Jibrin Barau, a senator and member of the APC, urged the INEC to ignore the protestations by the protesters and go ahead with the election results.

Barau said: “The election took place peacefully in the state. In Gama, an election took place because I was there and I monitored the process. The election was transparent because all the PDP agents signed the result sheets.

“We all know that this is not the right place to protest the results of an election. The proper thing to do is to go to the tribunal.”

On his part, Rabiu Sulaiman-Bichi, the acting chairman of the PDP, alleged that the process had completely been taken over by armed political thugs.

“Today this charade called re-run election was slated to hold in Kano and other states but unfortunately, what we have in Kano is nothing but a sham,” he said.

In its reaction, the APC had said the PDP was afraid of losing the election, hence, the call for the cancellation of the rerun.

Indeed, media reports said there was widespread disruption and violence during the supplementary election in Kano on Saturday, as thugs attacked voters and journalists on election duty. A reporter, who witnessed the violence, said on radio on Sunday that he was shocked at the level of impunity exhibited by the thugs because the Police refused to intervene to stop them. “The Police were compromised in this supplementary election. The election was disrupted by thugs who ordered journalists, including foreign journalists to leave the polling areas. We cannot say which party the thugs were working for, but the Police did not do anything to save harmless reporters and voters from the harassment,” the radio reporter said.

As tension continued to pervade Kano, the capital city, the police tightened security around the INEC headquarters and quickly intensified patrols on major roads in the city centre.

Plateau State

The PDP is similarly contesting the results of the re-run governorship election which took place in Plateau State on Saturday, March 23.  Jeremiah Useni, the PDP candidate, rejected the results, describing the election as a sham. Useni, who addressed a press conference in Jos, on Sunday, March 24, a few hours after the INEC declared Lalong as winner, said: “After due consultation, I hereby state that the results announced by INEC are not acceptable to us. Consequently, we have requested our legal team to activate the due process to reclaim our cherished mandate at the tribunal and by the grace of God, we will overturn and recover the people’s mandate.”

The poll, which was a run-off in nine local government areas of the state was a follow-up to the earlier one conducted on Saturday, March 9, which was declared inconclusive.

In the March 9 election, Lalong had scored 583,255 votes, while Useni received 538,321, thereby prompting the INEC to declare the election inconclusive because the 44,929 margin of lead was less than the total number of cancelled votes which the commission put at 49,377.

In any case, at the end of the rerun poll, Richard Kimbir, the INEC returning officer in the state, who announced the results in Jos, said Lalong polled 595,582 votes to defeat 23 other candidates, including Useni, who got 546,813 votes.

Kimbir said that the results for the nine LGAs that took part in the supplementary poll, including Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Bokkos, Jos North, Kanam, Langtang South, Mangu, Pankshin and Shendam, showed that Lalong scored additional 12,327 new votes, while Useni got 8,487.

He added that there was no cancellation of results during the supplementary poll.

In his acceptance speech shortly after he was declared the winner on Sunday, Lalong said his victory was a referendum by the people to move the state to the next level. The governor said the outcome of the election “was clearly an amazing show of confidence and trust,” which the people had for his administration.

Sokoto State

Just like its counterpart in Benue State, the APC candidate in Sokoto State claimed that Aminu Tambuwal, the incumbent governor, did not win his re-election.

In a keenly contested election, Tambuwal was declared the winner with a narrow margin of 342 votes.

In the earlier results of March 9, before the supplementary poll, Tambuwal had 489,558 votes, leading with 3,413 against Aliyu Sokoto of the APC, who got 486,145 votes.

Declaring the results in of the supplementary governorship election results on Sunday, March 24, at the Sultan Muhammadu Maccido Institute for Quranic and General Studies, venue of the collation, Fatima Batulli Mukhtar, the returning officer and vice chancellor of the Jigawa State University, Dutse, said the APC got 25,515 and the PDP scored 22, 444 from the 22 local government areas where the rerun poll was conducted.

According to Mukhtar, 50, 332 of the 95,022 registered voters were accredited. Those whose votes were valid were 48,309 and 1,580 were rejected.

Merging the final results, the INEC returning officer said the PDP scored 512,000 and APC got 511,660 votes. She said while the total registered voters in the state are 1,887,767, 1,083,413 voters were accredited for the exercise. He also put the valid votes as 1,036,336 with 31,662 as rejected votes while 1,067,990, represented total votes cast.

Before the winner was announced, there was apprehension over the late collation and transmission of results from the Kebbe Local Government Area which forced Mukhtar to suspend the declaration of the results around 3.45am on Sunday till 9am.

The results from the local government were considered vital on account of its dense voter population of 20,015 and the high number of polling units put at 35.

Decaling the winner, the returning officer said: “That Aminu Waziri Tambuwal having satisfied the electoral requirements and returned the highest votes is hereby declared winner of the Sokoto state governorship election.”

But Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi, the APC agent and campaign director-general, objected to the presentation of the results from Kebbe Local Government Area. He alleged that there was malfunctioning Smart Card Reader and that there no election in some polling units. He, therefore, urged the INEC to look into his observations.

In the same vein, Sambo Danchadi, the state publicity secretary of the party, Sambo Danchadi, alleged: “The so-called winning margin of 342 votes is far less than the number of the registered voters in the polling units where elections were not held, which is in contravention of the electoral law.”

That notwithstanding, Tambuwal, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has dedicated his victory to “the resilience and unalloyed trust the people of the state reposed” in his administration.

The hall erupted with shouts of Allahu Akbar (God is great) and “Sai Mutawalle,” the governor’s traditional title.

Bauchi State

In Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, the PDP governorship candidate, is in a clear lead in the supplementary governorship election.

The results of supplementary election held in the 15 LGAs declared by Kyari Mohammed, the state returning officer, showed that Mohammed got 6, 376 votes, while Governor Mohammed Abubakar, his closest rival and the candidate of the APC got 5, 117 votes.

According to the results, Mohammed led Abubabakar with 1, 259 votes to emerge the winner of the supplementary election.

Even before the declaration of the election as inconclusive, Kyari had declared that the PDP candidate was leading the incumbent governor with 4, 059 votes in the March 9, governorship election. The PDP candidate scored 469, 512 votes to lead Abubabakar who got 465, 453 votes.

Nevertheless, the returning officer could not declare a winner in the Bauchi election because of the suit being filed against the cancellation of one of the three local government areas. Thus, he said after announcing the results of the re-run election: “As you all know, I cannot make a return because I understand that the case of Tafawa Balewa LGA is in court.”

Indeed, the federal high court in Abuja, on Monday, March 25 asked the INEC to continue and conclude the collation of the results of the March 9, 2019, governorship election in the Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi State.

Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo set aside his earlier order of March 19, 2019, which stopped the collation of the results.

After declining jurisdiction to hear the substantive case, the judge ruled in his judgment on Monday that “the defendant (INEC) should be allowed to continue its constitutional duty.”

“There is no legal impediment before the defendant to go on with the decision of the defendant to execute its decision in its press release,” the judge ruled.

The suit was filed by the APC and Abubakar, the incumbent governor, challenging the commission’s decision to resume and conclude collation and announce the final results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state, after the election in the state had been declared inconclusive.

In any case,  Mohammed said that with or without the contentious results of the Tafawa Balewa LGA, he had won the election.

Now with the court decision, the winner of the governorship poll will be announced any time soon in the state.

Adamawa State

But that is not the case in Adamawa State, where a court decision is also being expected over the conclusion of election in the state. A high court had halted the process of the supplementary governorship election in the state based on an objection suit filed against the INEC by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy, MRDD, which claimed that the commission excluded the name of Eric Theman, its governorship candidate, from the ballot paper.

Hammadu Fintiri, the PDP’s candidate, was leading with 32,476 votes from the first election held on February 23, after polling 367,471 votes while Governor Jubrilla Bindow of the APC, had 334,995 votes. Bindow is seeking re-election.

In any case, the INEC had said a supplementary election would hold in 44 polling units spread across 14 council areas of the state, with 40,998 votes to be contested for between the two leading candidates.

The court verdict is expected on Tuesday, March 26, to determine when the supplementary election will hold.

 

 

 

– Mar. 25, 2019 @ 04:00 GMT /

 

 

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