•Says party still choice of Nigerians
•INEC regrets assault on staff
Omololu Ogunmade, Chuks Okocha, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Segun James in Lagos, Amby Uneze in Owerri, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Bassey Inyang in Calabar
With the All Progressives Congress (APC) commanding victory in Saturday’s by-elections held in 11 states of the federation, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed satisfaction with the party’s performance.
The president, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the results from the polls showed APC as the choice of the people, adding that they will not be disappointed.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had conducted 15 by-elections for some federal and state legislative seats spread across 11 states to fill vacancies created by the death of former occupants of the legislative seats.
The by-elections involved nine state Houses of Assembly seats and six senatorial seats.
The commission had shifted the polls, earlier scheduled for October, owing to the violence in many parts of the country that trailed the #EndSARS protest against police brutality.
Senatorial by-elections were conducted in Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Cross River North, Imo North, Lagos East and Plateau South senatorial districts.
In addition, INEC held nine state Houses of Assembly by-elections in eight states following the deaths of former members from Bauchi, Enugu, Kogi, Borno, Cross Rivers, Katsina, Zamfara and Lagos States.
Four of the six senatorial by-elections are to fill legislative seats that became vacant due to the death of their former occupants from Cross River North, Imo North, Lagos East and Plateau South.
The remaining two senatorial by-elections were to fill seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West, which became vacant following the emergence of Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as governor and deputy governor of the state respectively.
Results of the by-elections, however, showed that the APC won in Lagos, Plateau, Imo, Katsina, Bauchi and Kogi States.
Reacting to the party’s victory, Buhari assured the people that his administration would not take them for granted.
He thanked the Interim Management Committee of APC, led by Yobe State Governor, Mr. Mala Buni, party leaders and representatives for what he described as their impressionable performance.
The statement said: “Results coming from the states of the long list of by-elections show definitely that our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), remains the chosen party of Nigerians.
“We do not take this confidence of the people for granted and we will not fail them.
“Nigerians who appreciate the efforts of the administration in making life better for all citizens, especially under an economy facing the severest test from the global Coronavirus pandemic, will not be disappointed.
“We thank them immensely for their trust in the party and government.
“We equally thank the Interim Management Committee of the party under the capable leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni, the Governor of Yobe State, the Progressive Governors’ Forum under Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, all our governors, parliamentarians, state, local government and ward level APC chapters and the entire ranks of the membership for this brave and impressionable performance.
“While congratulating the successful candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari in particular, is very pleased with the election outcomes and urges the party to uphold the spirit of hard work, unity, progress, cooperation that forms the bedrock of these victories.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, also congratulated the APC for its victory in the by-elections.
The speaker, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Lanre Lasisi, said the victories in some states have once again reaffirmed the popularity as well as the vote of confidence the people have in the party and its candidates.
He congratulated the Lagos State APC and its candidates for the Lagos East Senatorial District and that of Kosofe State Constituency II, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru and Mr. Obafemi Saheed respectively for their victories.
According to him, the APC remains the party to beat nationwide and it will remain so.
INEC Declares APC Winner in Imo without Candidate
In Imo State, INEC declared the APC winner of the Imo North senatorial election, but without returning any candidate.
In announcing the results yesterday in Owerri, the Returning Officer, Mr. Hakeem Adikum, said APC scored 36,811 votes while Mr. Emmanuel Okewulonu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second with 31,903 votes.
Adikum, who quickly rose after announcing the results scored by various political parties and their candidates, said: “I hereby return the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the by-election held in Imo North on Saturday, December 5.”
According to Adikum, APC won in five out of the six local government areas in the senatorial district while PDP won in one.
While PDP won in Obowo LGA where its candidate hails from, APC won in Okigwe, Onuimo, Isiala Mbano, Ehime Mbano and Ihitte/Uboma LGAs.
INEC’s failure to return any candidate as the winner of the election caused disquiet in the hall, as the supporters of the two claimants to the party’s ticket, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Mr. Frank Ibezim, who were waiting to jubilate outside went home dejected.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo State, Prof. Francis Ezeonu, told journalists that the commission was unable to return a candidate from APC as the winner of the election because of what he called several court orders for and against Araraume and Ibezim.
He said two court judgments had surfaced on Friday, one from the Court of Appeal, Owerri, and another from the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Court of Appeal judgment had faulted that of the Federal High Court, sitting in Owerri, nullifying the candidacy of Ibezim and declared him the APC’s candidate.
The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on the other hand, had declared Araraume as candidate of the party, on the grounds that Ibezim presented fake certificates to the APC and INEC, and declared him (Ibezim) as “unfit” to hold any public office.
APC’s Dadu’ut Wins Plateau South Senatorial By-election
The APC’s candidate in the Plateau South senatorial by-election, Prof Nora Dadu’ut, has been declared the winner and returned elected.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Idris Amale, said Dadu’ut polled a total of 83,15104 votes, to beat her PDP rival, Hon. George Daika, who polled 70,838 votes.
The candidate of the APC defeated her closest opponent in four local government areas in the senatorial zone, namely Shendam, Wade, Quan’pan and Mikang while the PDP candidate won in two local government areas of Langtang North and Langtang South.
Dadu’ut’s victory excited Plateau State Governor, Hon. Simon Lalong, who congratulated her for making history as the first female senator-elect in the state.
He described her victory as not surprising as the APC is well rooted in the state.
The governor commended INEC and the security agencies for working assiduously towards a successful by-election.
APC’s Abiru Wins Lagos East Senatorial By-election
The candidate of APC in the Lagos East senatorial by-election, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, has been declared the winner.
The results, announced by INEC, showed that Abiru polled 89,204 votes to beat PDP’s Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, who secured 11,257 votes.
Abiru, a banker, defeated his opponent by a wide margin in all the five local government areas in the senatorial district.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was ecstatic about Abiru’s and Saheed’s (Kosofe State Constituency II) victories.
According to INEC, Saheed polled 12,494 votes to beat his rival, Mr. Sikiru Alebiosu of PDP, who got 2,068 votes.
Sanwo-Olu, in a statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, described the APC’s victory with wide margin in the by-elections as a testament to the confidence the people of Lagos State have in the party.
The governor commended the electorate for coming out to perform their civic responsibilities and for voting in large numbers for the two candidates put forward by the APC.
He also appreciated chieftains of the party and members for working assiduously for the victory during the polls.
PDP Victorious in Cross River North Senatorial By-election
The candidate of the PDP, Dr. Stephen Odey, has been declared the winner of Saturday’s by-election for Cross River North Senatorial District by INEC.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Ameh Akor, announced the results yesterday after the collation of votes cast in the five local government areas that make up the senatorial district.
Akor said the PDP candidate polled 129, 207 votes to defeat eight other contestants, among them, his closest rival in the election, Mr. Mr. Joseph Agi (SAN), of the APC, who polled 19,165 votes.
The position became vacant following the death of the former representative of the senatorial district, Dr. Rose Oko, early this year.
But a senatorial aspirant in the by-election, Mr. Agom Jarigbe, has kicked against the announcement of Odey as winner of the election.
Jarigbe, who is the representative of the Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said as at the time of the election, INEC had not reflected anyone as the candidate of the PDP.
Dickson Wins in Bayelsa West Race
Immediate past Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, has clinched the Bayelsa West Senatorial District seat in the National Assembly.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Ekechukwe Okeke, returned Dickson as the senator-elect, having polled 115,257 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi of the APC who polled 17,541.
Dickson, who spoke in his country home of Toru Orua shortly after his return, dedicated the victory to God, the voters, Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation.
Dickson, in a statement yesterday by his media aide, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said the mandate was beyond the Sagbama/Ekeremor senatorial district but an opportunity to galvanise unity and solidarity in Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation.
According to him, his legislative mission will focus on restructuring of the country, which he described as a task that must be done.
He said he would exploit the opportunity of his contacts to build new bridges of understanding, consolidation of existing bonds and effective networking with critical stakeholders.
He invited Ebebi, he whom described as his brother, to join him in the mission to attract development to the area now that the elections have been concluded.
APC Wins Kogi Assembly By-election
The APC also retained the Ibaji Constituency seat in the Kogi State House of Assembly as INEC declared the party’s candidate, Mr. Egbunu Atule, the winner of the by-election.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Rotimi Ajayi, said Atule polled 8,515 votes to beat Mr. Daniel Enefola of the PDP, who scored 4,565 votes.
The election was conducted to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. John Abah also of the APC, which occurred in June.
APC Wins in Bauchi as Gov Appeals to PDP Supporters
The APC also won the by-election to fill the Dass constituency seat in the Bauchi State House of Assembly.
INEC had declared APC’s Bala Lukshi winner of the by-election after the
Returning Officer, Prof. Ahmed Mohammed, announced the result in Dass.
The APC candidate garnered a total of 12,299 to defeat Mr. Lawal Wundi of PDP who scored 11,062 votes.
Reacting to his party’s loss, the state Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, urged PDP supporters to accept defeat in good fate.
The governor, in a statement yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Mukhtar Gidado, in Bauchi, said PDP members and supporters should “accept the outcome of the election with dignity and in the spirit of sportsmanship.”
He described the PDP’s loss at the election as the will of God and urged the party loyalists not to let what he called a temporary setback to divide them.
“The loss of our party is a lesson for all of us, but no one is to be blamed.
“Remember that we lost 21 House of Assembly seats and the Senate seats in 2019, but God gave us victory in the gubernatorial election.
“Let us not play to the gallery by indulging in blame game, internal rancour, accusations and mistrust,” he added.
APC’s Atule Emerges Winner of Kogi By-election
The Independent National Electoral Commission has declared Mr Egbunu Atule of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the Ibaji Local Government constituency by-election of Kogi State, conducted on December 5.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof Rotimi Ajayi, who announced the results of the election yesterday at Onyadega, headquarters of the local government, said that Atule polled 8,515 votes to emerge the winner of the poll.
Ajayi also announced that Mr Daniel Enefola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second having scored 4,565 votes.
Six other parties also fielded candidates for the election. They included SDP, AA, ADC, AAC, APM and NRM.
The election was conducted to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Abah also of the APC, which occurred in June.
APC Wins in Katsina By-election
The APC also retained the Bakori constituency seat in the Katsina State House of Assembly, which became vacant in the aftermath of the death of the former occupant, Abdurrazaq Tsiga, in May.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Aminu Kankia, yesterday declared Dr. Ibrahim Kurami winner of the Saturday election.
According to him, Kurami scored 20, 446 votes to defeat his Alhaji Aminu Magaji of the PDP who polled 11,356 votes.
PDP Holds on to Enugu Assembly Seat
Also yesterday, INEC declared PDP’s Amaka Ugwueze winner of Isi-Uzo State Constituency by-election in Enugu State.
The seat became vacant following the death of the member representing the constituency, Chijioke Ugwueze, who died earlier in the year. PDP fielded his widow to replace him.
Announcing the results at Isi-Uzo Local Government Area headquarters in Ikem, INEC Collation Officer for the by-election, Chukwuemeka Nwachukwu, said Ugwueze scored 11,041 votes to defeat her main challenger, Ejiofor Okwor of the APC, who polled 2,293 votes.
He explained that the by-election had 13,597 total valid votes and 391 rejected votes, while a total of 13,988 votes were cast.
“From the result announced and displayed herein, it is clear that the candidate of the PDP scored the highest valid vote cast.
“By the power conferred on me, I hereby announce that the PDP candidate is hereby duly elected,’’ he said.
INEC Regrets Assault on Staff, Violence
However, INEC yesterday expressed dismay that those it described as “unscrupulous persons” are still bent on disrupting the electoral process and causing mayhem as well as violence to the electorate.
In its appraisal of the conduct of the by-elections, it said in some areas, electoral officials were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the smart card readers.
In a statement yesterday, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, said in yet other areas “the commission staff were prevented from deploying altogether. In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy.”
“These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude the spirited efforts of the commission to improve the electoral process under very difficult circumstances.
“Sadly, a number of the commission’s staff were assaulted during the by-elections. The commission commiserates with them. The commission also wishes to extend deep condolences to the families of the six policemen who lost their lives when the boat in which they were escorting election staff and materials capsized in Bayelsa State,” Okoye said.
INEC explained that one of the consequences of the lingering problem of election disruption manifested in the declaration of the by-election for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State inconclusive.
According to him, the returning officer declared the result inconclusive in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.
“The election for Bakura State Constituency became inconclusive because the 2,181-vote margin between the two leading candidates – those of the PDP (18,645 votes) and APC (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 polling units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.
” By the “margin of lead principle”, the election could not be declared and no winner was returned. Voting in the 14 affected polling units was marred by over-voting, abduction of staff of the commission, violence, assault occasioning grievous hurt against INEC officials, burning of INEC materials and snatching and carting away of sensitive electoral materials, resistance to the use of smart card readers and obstruction of the electoral process,” he added..
He said the commission met yesterday and fixed Wednesday for the conclusion of the by-election.