Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as ‘misplaced and undeserved,’ the blame put on it by the outgoing President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Augustine Alegeh, regarding the reoccurring incidence of inconclusive elections in the country.
In a statement signed by the acting Secretary of the commission, Mr. Musa Adamu yesterday, it said the non-conclusion of the effected elections was caused by violence by politicians and their thugs.
He also said the commission derives its powers to declare an election inconclusive from Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
It said its attention had been drawn to a statement credited to Alegeh in which he rebuked it for conducting 136 inconclusive elections in one year under the watch of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
It quoted Alegeh making such remark at the 56th annual general conference of the NBA in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on August 21.
Though it acknowledged that Alegeh was “highly knowledgeable and respected’’ it stated that his statement was unfortunate and grossly incorrect.
According to INEC, 163 elections comprising 80 court-ordered elections in the aftermath of 2015 general election, 70 end-of-tenure elections, 13 by-elections occasioned by death or resignation, have so far been conducted by the new commission.
It stated that out of the 163 conducted elections, 118 were concluded at first ballot and 21 concluded after supplementary.
It added that two cases were pending, while 22 suspended re-run elections in Rivers due to violence were to be concluded.
“This shows that 72.3 per cent of the elections were concluded at first ballot, 21.8 per cent of inconclusive elections were concluded after supplementary, 1.2 per cent pending, while 13.4 per cent were suspended in Rivers.
“It is clear from the foregoing that Alegeh‘s pronouncement was ill-informed and his stern rebuke to the commission was misplaced and undeserved,’’ the statement added.
The commission maintained that inconclusive elections were caused by violence and over-voting, and that the notion of inconclusive election was not strange to the laws.
According to it, the conditions for declaring an election inconclusive are stated in Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
“The commission remains unwavering and irrevocably committed to delivering elections that are free, fair and credible and to ensure that the vote of every eligible Nigerian counts,’’ it said