The result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the re-run polls for the Kogi East senatorial district and two state House of Assembly seats held at the weekend was just as predicted. Yekini Jimoh reports
The people of Kogi East senatorial district of Kogi State on Saturday, July 23 filed out again to elect their Senator and state House of Assembly representatives. There had been a series of appeals from stakeholders in Kogi East, asking the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to come forward and conduct the pending re-run elections. One of such group was the Igala/Bassa Consultative Forum, which noted that one year into the life of the present administration they were yet to have representatives in the Senate and two House of Assembly seats.
According to the group, the people were already getting agitated, restive and apprehensive. But after series of legal tussles, a former Senator from Kogi East, Senator Attai Aidoko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was disqualified from contesting the coming re-run election by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and confirmed Air Marshal Isac Alfa as the authentic candidate of the PDP.
Challenging irregularities such as ballot scattering and the disruption of counting process during the PDP primary on December 7, 2014 at Idah in which Senator Attai Aidoko was purportedly issued with a certificate of return, Alfa approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, and asked that the court declare him winner of the primary election, having polled the highest number of votes.
Thus, in his judgment delivered on May 2016, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba declared Alfa as the winner of the PDP senatorial primary for Kogi East held on December 7, 2014. By the judgment, therefore, Alfa became the PDP candidate in the rerun poll and by implication, to enjoy the votes cast in favour of the PDP in the first rerun election held in February, 2016. Indeed, Alfa went on to win the polls as predicted by political observers as there was literally nothing standing in his way.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on the other hand did not participate in the election following the disqualification of its candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Muhammed by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. During the Senatorial election, Muhammed won the election but was challenged by Senator Attai Aidoko at the Federal High Court, which led to his disqualification as Senator-elect from Kogi East.
With this development, the PDP had already looked set to win the re-run election as other political parties such as Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), KOWA Party, Labour Party (LP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP) and United Progressive Party (UPP) were not positioned to defeat the PDP in the election as many have observed and their prediction came to pass. INEC declared Alfa winner of the election.
INEC, on its part too, had also worked round the clock to ensure that the election was successful as no fewer than 1,390 ad hoc members of staff were prepared for the elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Samuel Usman, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen noted had that after due consultations with relevant stakeholders both at the state and national levels on the conditions precedent to the peaceful election in the zone, and based on the outcome of these meetings/consultations, July 23, 2016 had been fixed for the elections.
According to him, local government areas involved in the elections were Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji and Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu and Olamaboro, stressing that the state constituency re-run elections would be conducted in 1 Polling Unit out of 89 (PU 003) in Idah while in Ofu, election would be conducted in 79 Polling Units out of 129.
The REC, however, assured the electorate that the lessons learnt from the previous exercises would be used in raising the bar during this Saturday’s elections, saying he would also continue to encourage participation in the electoral process as the present Commission was poised to meet the global best practices. He warned that no permanent voters cards (PVCs), no voting, saying anybody who had no business with the process should steer clear of the Polling and Collation Centers.
“Security agencies have collectively vowed to secure the election and would deal decisively with hoodlums, who would disrupt the process,” he warned.
He also called for the cooperation and appealed that members of the public should be highly informed to conduct themselves before, during and after this exercise and take precautions in order to avoid a repetition of violence and disruption of the process.
In order to have violence-free elections, the REC also appealed to traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the area to preach the message of peace to their subjects before, during and after the poll. He said he would appeal to His Royal Majesty, Attah Igala to mediate between the contenders and their supporters in order to achieve a hitch-free poll.
“We intend to pay a courtesy call to His Royal Majesty, Attah Igala to solicit his fatherly support and to speak with his subjects and if possible, appeal to the contestants to comport themselves in order to conclude the election peacefully,” he said.
On the matter of PDP’s authentic candidate, he declared that the rightful candidate of the PDP was Alfa. REC Samuel Madaki said INEC would rely on the last court judgment, which recognised Alfa unless the commission was instructed otherwise by another court of competent jurisdiction.
He disclosed that there had been various cases in which INEC had to substitute candidates of some parties on the order of court even when elections were very close, saying INEC as a creation of the law would not violate any court ruling.
“INEC is guided by the latest court judgment. The person that the court directed us to recognise on the platform of the PDP is AVM Isaac Alfa. He is the candidate for the PDP unless otherwise,” he stressed.
And, at the end of the day, Alfa, who flew the PDP flag, won the election, expectedly with the other big guns cleared off his way. Of course, the fringe parties were just on the ballot to fulfill all righteousness as all indications had shown that Alfa, having reaped the votes cast for the PDP in the previous rerun, was in a vantage position to emerge Kogi East Senator.
With this development, the PDP had already looked set to win the re-run election as other political parties such as Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), KOWA Party, Labour Party (LP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP) and United Progressive Party (UPP) were not positioned to defeat the PDP in the election as many have observed and their prediction came to pass. INEC declared Alfa winner of the election