INEC Holds Rerun Elections in Six States on March 23

To conclude polls in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau, Sokoto Buhari meets six APC Govs, insists on free and fair polls
Ruling party backs electoral body on inconclusive elections

Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to draw the curtain on the general election as it yesterday fixed March 23, 2019 for supplementary elections in the six states it declared their governorship election held last Saturday as inconclusive.

The electoral body had declared governorship election in Adamawa, Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi, Kano and Plateau States as inconclusive.
In Adamawa State, Mr. Umaru Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), leads with 367,471 votes, while the incumbent, Mr. Jibrilla Bindow of the All Progressives Congress (APC), trailed with 334,995 votes. While total cancelled votes was 40,988, the two parties have a margin of 32,476 votes between them.

In Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed of the PDP leads with 469,512 votes, while Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, of the APC trailed with 465,453 votes. The total of 45,312 votes were cancelled, with a margin of just 4,059 votes between them.
Also in Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom of the PDP leads with 410,576 votes, and he is closely followed by Mr. Emmanuel Jime of APC with 329,022 votes. The total cancelled votes was 121,019, while 81,554 votes was the margin between them.

It’s also a fight to the finish in Kano as Alhaji Abba Yusuf of the PDP leads with 1,014,474 votes, closely followed by the incumbent, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC with 987,819 votes. The cancelled votes was 128,572, with a margin of 26,655 votes between them.
Meanwhile in Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong of the APC leads with 583,255 votes, closely followed by Senator Jerry Useni of the PDP with 538,326 votes, while cancelled votes were 49,377, with a margin of 44,929 votes.

In Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP leads with 489,558 votes, while Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed of the APC followed closely with 486,145 votes. Here, a total of 75,403 votes were cancelled and they have a margin of 3,413 votes between them.
In a statement yesterday by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC said the commission met yesterday and reviewed the conduct of the 29 governorship and 991 state constituency elections held on March 9, 2019.
He added that in all, the commission declared winners in the governorship elections in 22 states, while the Returning Officers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto States declared the governorship elections inconclusive.

Okoye stated: “Consequently, the commission will conduct supplementary elections on Saturday 23rd March 2019 to conclude the process.
“Supplementary elections will also hold in polling units in all states where State Assembly elections were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared. Details of the constituencies including number of polling units and registered voters, will be published on our website tomorrow Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

“The elections were declared inconclusive for a combination of reasons, mainly the discontinuation of use of the Smart Card Readers midway into the elections or the failure to deploy them, over-voting and widespread disruption in many polling units.
In compliance with the Margin of Lead Principle derived from Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act MM (as amended) and paragraph 41(e) and 43(b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections, the outcome of these elections could not be determined without conducting polls in the affected polling units. Hence the Commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in line with this principle.”

Okoye also stressed that the commission has considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation at the Tafawa Balewa LGA collation centre, which led to the cancellation of results for the entire local government.
He said that the commission found that there are issues that need further investigation and has set up a team led by a National Commissioner to resolve them.

Meanwhile, the Kano State governorship candidate of the PDP, Yusuf has said that he would still win the re-run election after INEC declared the state’s governorship election as inconclusive on Monday.
Yusuf assured his teaming supporters of victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial by-election.
In a statement by his spokesman, Sanusi Bature Dawakin-Tofa and made available to THISDAY in Kano yesterday, Yusuf accused the ruling APC of massive rigging which resulted to over-voting and eventual cancellation of 172 polling units.
Responding, Kano State Governor, Ganduje of the APC, said the PDP candidate and his supporters would receive the shock of their lives in the scheduled rerun governorship election.

He insisted that he is unperturbed by the wishful thinking and slapdash deportment of the PDP candidate considering what happened in the inconclusive election widely characterized by alleged vote buying and voter intimidation by the party.

In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Youth and Culture and Chairman, Publicity 2019 Election, Malam Muhammad Garba, yesterday said the APC and its candidate remain upbeat and sure of victory as Kano remained an APC state.
Ganduje said that he remained committed to the conduct of free and fair election, adding that all loopholes that gave them chance of rigging, vote buying and intimidation of voters have been blocked.

Buhari Meets Six APC Govs, Insists on Free and Fair Polls
Meanwhile as the APC and the PDP intensified their bickering over inconclusive elections in six states, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja played host to six APC governors.The meeting with governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), holding moments after the ruling party blessed the action of INEC, declaring the governorship elections in the six states inconclusive, boosted speculations that the parley might not be unconnected with the controversy.
The electoral body had declared the governorship elections in Plateau, Benue, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano and Adamawa states inconclusive on the ground that the margin of win was lower than the number of voters in areas where polling was cancelled due to sundry reasons.
The elections in Rivers State were suspended indefinitely.

Incidentally, the main opposition party, PDP, was in clear lead in five of the six states affected by the abortion of returns, while Rivers is its stronghold, giving rise to its claim that INEC was in an unholy alliance with the APC.
INEC has so far made returns in 22 of the 29 States where elections held last Saturday, declared six inconclusive and suspended proceedings in one.
Of the 22 declared, the APC has 13, while the PDP has nine. Had the other six been concluded, the tally would have been tied at 14 a piece with the PDP sure to make it 15 with Rivers.

Although the governors who met with the president last night did not disclose their mission to State House Correspondents, THISDAY gathered from high-level sources close to the meeting that it was an attempt to lure the president to do more to assist the APC to take the outstanding six states.

Four of the six states are currently held by the APC and they appear on their way out, a source told THISDAY, saying the meeting impressed it on the president that his intervention would help save the embattled governors.
The affected governors are Mr. Bindow Jubrilla (Adamawa), Alhaji Ibrahim Ganduje (Kano), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi) and Mr. Simon Lalong (Plateau).

Lalong, however, has a marginal vote advantage over the PDP’s Jeremiah Useni in the Plateau contest.
In the two other states of Sokoto and Benue, two PDP governors, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and Dr. Samuel Ortom, respectively, who had dumped the APC for the main opposition PDP last year, are already holding sway. But the APC also looks determined to unseat them and take charge of governance there.

The reaction of the president to the request for intervention was hazy last night as THISDAY sources were less enthusiastic about telling the outcome of the meeting.
But the president was said to be non-committal, wondering what form of intervention he could make to assist his party men given the loud noise already in the polity about the integrity of the declared results of the general election.

“His dilemma is likely to be cleared by his party,” a presidency source told THISDAY last night, saying: “By the time the party leadership brings the pressure, he would have no choice than to act in favour of his party men.”
But the presidency said last night that the governors’ visit was to congratulate the president on his victory, saying it had nothing to do with the inconclusive elections.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in an e-mail response to THISDAY enquiry stated: “The Governors were there to congratulate the president, on behalf of their brother-governors on his election victory. The meeting was not about inconclusive governorship elections as you have suggested. The president maintains a position that elections must be free, fair and transparent; that winners irrespective of parties they belong to should be allowed their victory.

“We have a constitutional authority, which is the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC with the responsibility of conducting elections. The president has no role in the processes, beyond making sure that all available means are utilised to ensure security of life and property during the election. The president has ensured that all funds appropriated for INEC have been paid to the last kobo.”

The indication of what is to come was given yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, who told THISDAY that the APC was solidly in support of INEC’s declaration of the election in the six states as inconclusive.

“Inconclusive simply means the process is ongoing and it’s within the law to so declare,” Issa-Onilu said.
He explained the party’s position: “INEC is just going through its normal routine process. Inconclusiveness is part of the process, there is nothing special about this. We believe INEC is merely acting within the electoral law. It is part of the electioneering and it is an ongoing process and we all wait and see the outcome and play our part.”

When asked to comment on the sheer number of states that recorded inconclusive governorship elections, Onilu said: “Elections have become more competitive now and we need to let Nigerians know that the action the INEC took was within the law. We are not like the PDP that makes noise all the time.”

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