ANAMBRA: “We Cannot Cancel The Election” – INEC Tells Ngige

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said  only the courts   could  order   total cancellation of any election conducted by it.

Prof Attahiru Jega (INEC Chairman)

The commission  was  reacting  to the calls by the  All Progressives Congress, Labour Party   and their candidates   for a total cancellation of the controversial governorship election in Anambra State on Saturday.

It said  since the Chief Returning Officer, Prof. James Epoke, had announced most of  the results, INEC had no  power    to do anything contrary.

“By law, those results are now beyond the purview of INEC to invalidate. Only the courts have that power now to do so,” Mr. Kayode Idowu, the   Chief Press Secretary to  the  INEC Chairman,  Prof. Attahiru Jega,   told  The  PUNCH in Abuja.

Idowu added that with the inclusive nature of the election as declared by Onukogu, all that “the commission can do is to conduct a supplementary election so that the CRO  can make a return.”

He   explained that INEC was  “ awaiting the return of field officers, who went for the   election so  that  every report obtained ,    especially concerning logistical issues, could be  painstakingly scrutinised.”

It is after this, he said, that Jega and  his national commissioners would  meet to fix a date for the supplementary election.

The  APC candidate,    Chris Ngige; his PDP  and LP counterparts,  Tony Nwoye and Mr. Ifeanyi Uba,   had on Sunday jointly called for a total cancellation of the poll.

They  told   INEC to  conduct a fresh election before the March, 2014 handover date by  the   incumbent Governor,  Peter Obi.

Epoke had   in Awka on Monday morning that the  election was declared inconclusive    because it did not meet certain requirements of the Electoral Act.

He said that the Act required   that for a winner to be declared in an election, the difference in the total voting population of the areas where  the  exercise  was cancelled should be less than the difference between the votes scored by the candidate with the highest votes and the votes of the candidate with the second highest votes.

He  said in the case of Anambra State, the total voting population of the areas in which election was cancelled  was 113,113.

The figure, according to him,  is higher than the 79,754 difference between the leading candidate’s votes and the second highest candidate’s votes.

With this, the CRO  said,  INEC  had no choice but to declare the election inconclusive.

Epoke added, “The rule guiding this election is that for a winner to emerge, he must have majority of votes cast and the required spread of 25 per cent of votes in two-thirds of the local government areas.

“We observed that due to many reasons, there were a lot of cancelled votes that  made  it difficult for a winner to emerge.”

The CRO  said the winner of the election  would  be only be declared after election had been conducted in the areas where the  exercise  was cancelled.

He also  explained that election was cancelled in  some  polling units  because of  snatching of ballot materials; delivering of coded ballot materials to wrong collation centres and   the non-arrival of election materials at polling units.

In the election result received and released by INEC, Chief Willie Obiano of  the All Progressives Grand Alliance led  with 174,710 votes.

The Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Mr. Tony Nwoye, was second with 94,956 votes while the All Progressives Congress  candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige, was   third with 92,300 votes.

The Labour Party candidate, Ifeanyi  Ubah,  came  fourth with 37,446 votes and the Progressives Peoples Alliance candidate, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo,  was  fifth with  5,056 votes.

The total valid votes cast in the election  were  413,005.

INEC   announced that the  supplementary election would  take place in 15 local government areas, where 113,113 voters were denied the right to vote because election was cancelled in their polling units.

Most of the cancelled polling units(160) are in Idemilli North LGA  where 89,997 voters were disenfranchised.

Also affected  are Idemili South  with one  polling unit  and  636 voters ; Ekwusigo,  three  polling units with 884 voters;  Ayamelum, three  polling units with 1,247 voters; Anambra East, one  polling unit with 250 voters;  Anambra West,  six polling units with 2,000 voters; Anaocha, one  polling unit with 276 voters ;  and   Awka North, two polling units with 1,366 voters.

The rest are       Awka South, one polling unit with 249 voters; Nnewi South, two  polling units with 376 voters ; Onitsha North, one polling unit with 484 voters; Onitsha South,  17 polling units with 12,279 voters ; Orumba North, four  polling units with 588 voters;   and Oyi four  polling units with 1,202 voters.

The failure of INEC to fix a date   for the supplementary election  created some confusion  especially among the  poll  monitors and journalists.

Many  waited till Monday afternoon   before  moving out of their hotel rooms when it became obvious  to them that INEC had not  decided on a date for the supplementary poll.

On  Monday evening, the riot policemen deployed  in  INEC office in Awka were  also seen moving out after some ceremonies.

Source: Punch Nigeria

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