Alex Enumah in Abuja
A pro-democracy and good governance advocacy group has condemned the call by the Labour Party (LP) for a review of the results of the March 18, governorship election in Enugu State.
The group, Enugu Good Governance Group, (E-3G), which described the call as a call for anarchy, also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) not to succumb to any unnecessary pressure from anyone.
INEC had on March 22, announced candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Mbah, winner of the guber poll having scored the highest number of votes cast at the election.
INEC State Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia, Madu Iwe, announced that Mbah polled 160,895 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party, who scored 157,552 votes.
INEC had announced the results four days after the election owing to controversies surrounding results from Nkanu East and Nsukka Council Areas.
The issues involving the two area councils were resolved by a review panel at INEC headquarters in Abuja, which had upheld that the electoral processes that produced the result of the Nsukka Council Area but had to adjust the votes of the Nkanu East Council Area.
However, dissatisfied the Enugu State chapter of the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, petitioned INEC, and asked that the March 18 governorship election be declared inconclusive.
Besides, LP and Edeoga called for the cancellation of votes in Nkanu East local government area as well as the withholding of the issuance of Certificate of Return to any candidate until issues enumerated in their petition are resolved.
In his reaction, the National Coordinator of the pro-democracy group, Odinaka Ikechukwu, observed that INEC had already reviewed results in areas where there had been controversies before declaring a winner, adding that doing so again tantamount to doing the job of a petition tribunal.
“Therefore, we see the latest calls by the Labour Party not only an attempt to convert the INEC to an Election Petition Tribunal, but also a call for anarchy; and we condemn it in totality.
“All political actors, including the Enugu Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, must understand that election is a process guided by timelines and various constitutional powers vested in several institutions to ensure the sustenance of our democracy. Mounting pressure on one institution to overreach itself will never go well for the nation’s democracy”, he said.
The group further argued that despite reported issues, the Enugu guber was comparatively and substantially free, fair, and credible.
While calling on INEC, “to disregard the call for a further review of the declared result and go ahead to hand over the Certificate of Return to the declared winner,” the group advised aggrieved persons to make use of the provisions of Section 130 of the Electoral Act 2022 by approaching the Election Petition Tribunal with its complaints.