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