The November 30, supplementary governorship election in Anambra State may witness a very low turnout as the three major candidates in the contest vow to boycott it
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THERE is every likelihood of a mass boycott of the November 30, Anambra governorship supplementary election as three of the major candidates in the race have vowed to boycott the election. The candidates are Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ifenayi Ubah, of the Labour Party, LP and Chris Ngige of the Action Progressives Congress, APC. Despite the threat of a possible boycott, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said the election would go on as planned.
Ngige, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues at a briefing in Abuja on Saturday, November 23, said that the three candidates would not like to be used as “guinea pigs” to give legitimacy to the controversial election. He said that the register used for the electron was printed in Enugu and that the voter register used in the Agulu ward of governor, Peter Obi, featured under age voters. Ngige insisted that the voter register given to the parties was different from the one used for the election by the INEC, adding that they had great pains as the state did not have enough NYSC members as presiding officers. He accused INEC of using students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University as presiding officers.
“The INEC administrative inquiry is of no value and therefore we will not participate in the supplementary election. The election has no result sheet. All we are saying is that the electoral officer of Idemili north, Chukwujekwu Okeke, did not act alone. He is part of a syndicate that rigged the election. We will want to reassure Anambra people that we are here to fight for them. What happened in Anambra State was not proper. If those who rigged the election are allowed to escape, then annulment of my election in 2006 was not proper. They said that my election was tainted, hence it was annulled. I have repented. We have rejected the November 30, supplementary election,” he said.
On his part, Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary, APC, said the party would not be a part of the election. He said that the APC would not be a party to what was obviously a travesty of election by a self-discredited and conniving electoral umpire. He expressed absolute shock and incredulity that INEC could even talk of organising a supplementary election, despite the weight of credible evidence presented by the party as well as election monitors/observers that what transpired on November 16 was nothing but a sham. “This announcement has confirmed our worst fears that INEC is working in cohort with the PDP and the presidency to ensure that no election ever counts in Nigeria.
“The INEC chairman himself was the first to admit that a senior official of the commission compromised the election in one local government in Anambra. We, on our part, were able to establish that materials meant for several local governments areas that were the strongholds of our candidate were diverted; that out of the about 1.7 million registered voters in Anambra State, only a little over 400,000 were accredited to vote; and that the voters’ register was apparently tampered with to remove many names and disenfranchise thousands of voters. Yet, the same electoral body that admitted that the election was compromised, has turned round to validate it by its decision to organise a supplementary election instead of cancelling the parody of election and holding a fresh one. This is a sad day indeed,” he said.
The APC also staged a nationwide protest on Thursday, November 28. At the headquarters of INEC in Abuja, the party led byBola Tinubu, Muhammed Buhari, and Nasir El-Rufai former FCT minister of Federal Capital Territory, among others, stormed the office to protest the outcome of the Anambra State governorship election. The protesters were, however, denied access to the premises of the commission by a combined team of security agencies numbering over 400 comprising soldiers, Department of State Security Service, DSS, personnel, policemen and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
Tinubu said the mission are to liberate the nation, adding that “Nigerians need free, fair and credible elections.” He told the police and other security officers who barricaded the entrance of the commission’s office that their future lies in good governance and democracy devoid of insincerity. The APC had earlier on Wednesday, November 27, sent a protest letter to INEC with the request that the Anambra State governorship election should be cancelled outright.
The INEC had earlier on Friday, November 22, fixed November 30, for the conduct of the supplementary election in 210 polling units where elections were cancelled. Attahiru Jega, INEC chairman, said that there were no sufficient grounds or evidence to warrant a total cancellation of the results of the election as already announced. “The complaints by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that his name was not on the voters’ register would have been as a result of his indulging in double registration or not taking part in the continuous voter registration. He had his name in the addendum register to have his details captured in the voters registration, a substantial majority of those alleged to have been disenfranchised if not all of them must have been people who may have done multiple registration or those who did not have their names in the electronic register. No evidence has been adduced to warrant the cancellation of the election,” he said.
On its part, the Sensitisation Initiative for Grassroots, SIG, a non-governmental organisation, has sued the INEC at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the conduct of November 16, governorship election in the state. The group is seeking to restrain the electoral body from conducting the planned supplementary election on Saturday, November 30. The SIG is asking the court to determine whether INEC, within the intendment of the provisions of sections 25, 26 and 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, has power to declare the November 16, governorship election in the state as inconclusive.
It also wants the court to determine whether the electoral umpire, by the provisions of section 178 and 179 of the 1999 constitution, has power to call for a supplementary election upon the inconclusiveness of the November 16, governorship election in Anambra State. The group is urging the court to hold that the term “supplementary election” is alien to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and has never been contemplated under the provisions of the constitution.
The question in the minds of many followers of the many controversies surrounding Anambra governorship election is whether the INEC would declare the APGA candidate the winner after the supplementary election, considering the fact the other candidates have decided to boycott the election. Meanwhile, governor Obi has denied that his party rigged the November 16, governorship election in the state. He also rejected calls for the cancellation of the election saying only Anambra indigenes can decide who rules them. Obi, whose party, APGA, currently leads the other major opposition parties by over 70,000 votes, said only his party, can boast of winning the required 25 percent votes in two-thirds of the 21 local government areas in the state. The governor alleged that those calling for the cancellation of the November 16, election were those who were unable to rig the election in the state, adding “if you repeat the election 10 times, they will not win.
“Let me tell you, in the election in Anambra State, I can go to any where as a Christian and tell you there was no issue of rigging. Those who wanted to rig were prevented from rigging and they are crying. Go to the people of Anambra State, if you repeat that election 10 times, they (the opposition) will never win. Why are they even talking about cancellation? The regulation, the rules or the law says that you have to win in at least 25 per cent in two-thirds of the local government areas and in Anambra case, it is 14 local governments,” he said.
In a separate development, Uche Ekwunife, first runner-up in the Anambra governorship primaries of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has gone to court to challenge the eligibility of Willie Obiano, the party’s candidate in the November 16, election. Ekwunife, a member of the House of Representatives, is contending that the alleged double registration status of Obiano with the INEC as a voter, disqualified him from contesting the election. In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Awka, with suit number FHC/AWK/CS/281/2013, Ekwunife is also asking the court to declare her as the candidate of APGA.
Ekwunife has also withdrawn her suit challenging the candidacy of Obiano. She said she had withdrawn the suit due to pressures on her and in the overall interest of her party. “In deference to pressure from my family, my state governor, friends, colleagues, clergymen, royal fathers, well-wishers and the larger interest of our great party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, I have instructed my lawyers to terminate forthwith, suit no GHC/ AWK/CS/ 281/2013, which we instituted at the Federal High Court, Awka. I also dissociate myself from all other suits in any form or colour against our party candidate, Chief Willie Obiano by any person or persons, group or groups before now or in the future. May I use this opportunity to affirm my loyalty to our governor, the national chairman of our great party, our candidate, Chief Willie Obiano and the APGA family,” she said.