The declaration of Osun governorship election as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission has triggered nationwide controversies with some analysts positing that the election was conclusive going by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution. In declaring the election inconclusive, the INEC Returning Officer, Professor Afuape said the difference in the votes of the two
The declaration of Osun governorship election as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission has triggered nationwide controversies with some analysts positing that the election was conclusive going by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
In declaring the election inconclusive, the INEC Returning Officer, Professor Afuape said the difference in the votes of the two leading candidates in the election was less than the number of registered voters in places where voting was cancelled. The election was cancelled in 7 units from four local government areas which collectively have a registered voters’ figure of 3498, whereas the difference in votes was 353.
In the announced election results Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP polled 254,698 against his closest rival Alhadji Isiaka Oyetola who polled 254,345. INEC believes the outcome of election in the 7 units with a total registered voters of 3498 could substantially alter the outcome of the governorship election where the difference is only 353 votes.
Dr, West-Idahosa, a legal luminary and a former member of the House of Representatives has argued that where elections were cancelled as pronounced by the INEC, they remained cancelled. “They ought not to form part of the counting process and should not influence the outcome of the elections for any reason whatsoever”
Citing a Supreme Court judgement in “Oshiomhole vs Osunbor and ords”, where cancelled votes were added to the PDP’s scores, Dr. Idahosa said all the courts held that cancelled votes have no role to play in an election. The votes were deducted and Oshiomhole was declared winner of the election. He, therefore, asserted that the action of the INEC may have been more political than legal.
However, the INEC rests his decision on the latitude it is allowed by law, to make rules governing election and more precisely on the Electoral Act 2010 which gives it power to declare election void in case of over voting which was an instance in some of the units affected in the governorship election. In other units, legitimate voters were disenfranchised because some thugs forcefully snatched their ballot boxes.
In all the instances, the INEC says it has the power to conduct a supplementary election. However, the argument of Dr. West-Idahosa is that the INEC should not have used the word “cancelled”. “Election in such places could have been voided without the announcement of final results but having announced the result and cancelled some units, INEC lacked the power to reopen voting in those centers/units.
The application of the law or rules as stated by INEC in the Osun election, is believed not to have any precedence in previous elections in the country. The rule has indeed been controverted by a recent bye election in Kogi state, where the number of cancelled votes which stood at 19,000 exceeded the difference between the two candidates in the election which stood at 12,000 and the candidate of the APC, Haruna Isah was declared winner of the Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency without applying the same rule which INEC has applied in Osun.
In that election the candidate of the APC polled 26,860 while the candidate of the PDP, Engr Bashir Abubakar scored 14,845 votes to come second, a total of 19,960 votes were cancelled as a result of violence in some polling units in two local government areas.
Meanwhile the PDP has rejected the verdict of inconclusiveness placed on the governorship election and has instead urged INEC to declare its candidate Senator Ademola Adeleke the winner of the election in accordance with the requirements of the Nigerian constitution.
According to the Osun sate PDP Chairman, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, “our candidate has satisfied the requirements of the constitution having scored the highest votes cast and has 25 percent in all the 30 local government areas of the state”. The party also accused INEC of “ignoring the law and satisfying the partisan interest of the ruling APC”
The party also alleged that INEC had refused to entertain its complaints on voting infractions and irregularities in places like Ilesa East, Ife East, Osogbo, Olorunda, Ayedade and Boripe local government areas.
It is yet to be seen how this matter would eventually be resolved as the PDP is also said to be considering the legal option to challenge the INEC decision. This may, however, be a long process. The INEC has announced that the supplementary election would hold on Thursday September 27.