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Gov’ship polls: Parties set for legal battle in 15 states

Aggrieved political parties and governorship candidates, in at least 15 out of 22 states where election’ results have been announced, have voiced readiness to challenge the outcome at the election tribunals.

 

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The states where parties or candidates have rejected results, and expressed determination to head to the election tribunals are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, and Zamfara.

However the governorship candidates of the leading opposition parties in Gombe, Kwara, Oyo and Lagos states have conceded defeat.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed 23rd March, 2019 for supplementary elections in states where elections were declared inconclusive.

So, the decision of eventual losers in Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, and Plateau will be known after the supplementary elections.

The situation of things in Rivers State would equally be determined after the action of INEC on the report of its fact-finding committee on the suspended poll.

There is general silence on the outcome of the governorship polls in Kebbi, Jigawa and Yobe states.

There is no cause for alarm in Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, and Anambra states since no governorship was conducted there. Both Ekiti and Osun states are still in court based on the outcome of the governorship elections conducted in 2018.

The APC is set to challenge the PDP’s victories in at least six states – Taraba, Ebonyi, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, and Delta.

On the other hand, the PDP is laying claim to states which include Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Niger.

The South South zonal chapter of the ruling APC has already rejected the results of governorship election declared by INEC for Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta states because of what it called anomalies and double standards.

The APC Zonal National Vice Chairman, Ntufam Hilliard Etta, said the party would do everything legitimate to ensure that the alleged injustices did not stand and the perpetrators are brought to book.

Eta, who claimed that various returning officers of the states, in connivance with agents of the PDP, cancelled results in APC’s areas of strength which the party had hitherto won, called on INEC to speedily complete the process of conducting free, fair and credible elections in Rivers State to calm frayed nerves and douse tensions.

Eta said, “We have observed with great disappointment the ugly developments in the just concluded governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections held on Saturday, 9th of March, 2019, and the subsequent release of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for states of the South South geo-political zone; viz: Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta states.

“There are reports that where elections could not hold due to violence, results are announced in favour of the PDP. “Furthermore, in some units where the card readers failed, results are also alIocated to such areas and subsequently announced in favour of the PDP. Sadly, there are reported cases of box snatching in areas of APC strongholds, results are announced in favour of the PDP.”

In Zamfara State, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) rejected the results of governorship and vowed to challenge the outcome at the tribunal.

The APGA governorship candidate, Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, accused security agents and officials of INEC of collaborating with the candidate of the APC to manipulate the exercise.

Shinkafi said the election was marred by massive irregularities, votes buying, multiple voting, multi ballot thumb printing, ballot boxes snatching, and alleged refusal of presiding officers across the 2,516 polling units to write results as announced and declared.

He added that there was also the incidence of the manipulation of results in eight local government areas which were won by the APGA governorship candidate with wide margin but turned around in favour of the APC governorship candidate.

In Lagos State, the governorship candidate of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Owolabi Salis, who rejected the results on Monday, alleged that APC colluded with INEC workers to manipulate votes.

Salis, at a briefing in Lagos, said he was putting a team of trusted lawyers together and would head to the tribunal to pursue the case to a logical conclusion.

In Ebonyi State, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, the APC governorship candidate said on Wednesday in Enugu that he would contest the outcome of the poll at the tribunal.

Ogbuoji, who described the contest which returned the incumbent, Gov. David Umahi of the PDP, as a sham which would not stand in the face of the law, said the votes were procured with the connivance of the system.

The APC governorship candidate in Enugu State, Sen. Ayogu Eze, who also rejected the results that returned the incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, alleged that the fabricated figures flew in the face of the very low turnout of voters in the entire state.

Sen. Eze, who spoke through his chief spokesman, Mr Okey Ezirigwe, on Tuesday, said the election result was “phantom’’ and the figures churned out by INEC were “oven-baked”.

In Imo State, APGA on Tuesday rejected the result of last Saturday’s governorship election through its State Publicity Secretary, Alphonsus Eberendu, who described the exercise as a “sham and mockery of democracy”.

Eberendu, who alleged that the election was marred by monumental irregularities, called for the cancellation of the entire election on the basis that it did not meet all the constitutional requirements.

Equally, the governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA), Uche Nwosu, who vowed to challenge the election results in court, said “It is a robbery of Action Alliance’s mandate and I believe the judiciary will take its course.”

In Kaduna, Isa Ashiru, the PDP governorship candidate, on Monday, also rejected the outcome of the election in the state, saying he has substantial evidence showing that the election which returned Governor Nasir el-Rufai, the APC candidate, was manipulated.

Ashiru, who alleged gross irregularities in some local government areas of the state, called for outright cancellation of the results.

He said the disparity between the number of votes obtained by the APC in the presidential elections and that of the governorship elections was another cause for concern.

Similarly, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in Ogun State and its gubernatorial candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, have rejected the outcome of the poll that produced APC’s Prince Dapo Abiodun as the winner, citing alleged manipulation of results.

In Katsina State, PDP which rejected the outcome of the governorship election that returned Governor Aminu Masari, has vowed to take legal action to challenge the results.

The State PDP chairman and deputy governorship candidate, Salisu Majigiri, said the election outcome was not a reflection will of the people.

Majigiri, while addressing newsmen, said PDP rejected the result because the figures announced were not real in view of poor voters’ turnout.

Also, the Nasarawa State chapter of the PDP, which rejected the result of the governorship election over alleged fraud, yesterday, through its chairman, Mr Francis Orugu, said the election fell short of minimum standards for the conduct of a credible election anywhere in the world.

Labaran Maku, the APGA governorship candidate in the state had rejected the result of the election, on Monday, alleging that the poll was marred by irregularities perpetrated by INEC in collusion with security agencies.

In Borno State, the PDP has also kicked against the governorship election result declared by INEC that produced the APC candidate, Babagana Zulum, winner.

Umar Bello, the PDP State Organising Secretary, who said the result was rejected over alleged irregularities, also said he did not sign the document declared by INEC in protest as the party’s agent at the result collation centre. Bello said the party would announce its position on the result.

Though the PDP has not officially made its position known in Niger State, last Sunday’s protest by some female party members at the INEC headquarters in Minna was indication that it may also challenge the outcome.

The spokesperson of the protesters, Talatu Sauka, who said the results of the governorship election that favoured Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the APC against Umar Nasko of the PDP had been tampered with, urged Tanko Beji (PDP chairman of the state) not to sign the collated results.

Sauka said the women would pursue the case if he went ahead to sign the result.

In the meantime, if the long argument at the collation centre between APC and PDP agents over the results from Zing Local Government Area of Taraba State is anything to go by, the APC may likely challenge the victory of Governor Darius Ishaku of the PDP.

The APC agent queried PDP’s 31,619 votes as against his party’s 7,105, claiming that card readers were not deployed in the LGA.

The PDP agent at the Jalingo centre however said the INEC office in Jalingo was a result collation centre and not a complaints collation centre.

 

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