Youths, APC supporters protest In Lokoja over Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency election
….Ask INEC to conclude the exercise
By Boluwaji Obahopo, LOKOJA
Hundreds of youths and supporters of the All Progressive Congress on Monday marched through the street of Lokoja protesting the “perceived” decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to announce winner for the House of Representatives election of Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency in the state, without recourse to its earlier stand to conduct supplementary election in some polling units were elections were earlier cancelled.
The supporters and the APC youths members marched through the state capital to the INEC state office stated that the electoral body cannot declare a winner for the Constituency until the election is concluded in the cancelled polling units.
The Collation officer for the election, Dr. Adams Baba had on Sunday February 26 declared the election inconclusive, hinging his decision on the fact that the margin of lead between the leading candidate, Salman Idris of ADC and the runner up, Kolawole Matthew of APC was far less than the numbers of registered voters on the affected polling units.
But the APC at the INEC state office in Lokoja said they have it on good authority that the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Gabriel Longpet had already forwarded the name of the ADC candidate to the national INEC as the winner.
The State APC youths Leader Muhammed Uba, who led the protest while presenting their protest letter at the INEC state office, said it will amount to turning the law on its head if INEC without recourse to concluding the election goes ahead to declare a winner.
The Protest Letter (a copy of which was made available to newsmen) titled, “Don’t Issue Certificate of Return to ADC in Kabba Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency, received by Mr Abisabo Yahaya, Head of Department, General Administration and Procurement INEC reads apart:
“We write to inform your good office of the need not to release certificate of return to Arch. Salman Idris, ADC, House of Representatives Flagbearer, Flagbearer, Kabba Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency, Kogi State.
“We make bold to inform you that the Returning Officer declared the election as inconclusive, owing to the cancellation of some polling units as a result of violence and over voting.
“We are hereby calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to as a matter of urgency to act in line with relevant laws empowered by the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guidelines 2022 to also conduct supplimentary election in Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituency.
“The Wards are; Aduge/Ogale, Iyah/Ayeh poling unit 006 Wards, Ijumu local government in addition to Iyah unit in Otu ward, Kabba/Bunu Local Government and Egbeda Egga in Ijumu local government where election were earlier cancelled in the federal Constituency.
“Furthermore, election were cancelled in Iyah/Ayeh and Aduge/Ogale wards which should also be included as parts of the areas supplimentary election will be conducted in accordance with the electoral act 2022 and INEC Guidelines 2022.
“We urge the commission not to compromise in doing the right thing as spelt out in the electoral act and guidelines.
“We make our submission as stipulated by law that were the margin of lead between the two leading candidates in an election is NOT in excess of the total number of voters who collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in Polling Units where elections are postponed, voided or not held in line with Sections 24(2 & 3), 47(3) and 51(2) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Returning Officer shall decline to make a return for the constituency until polls have been conducted in the affected Polling Units and the results collated into the relevant forms for Declaration and Return. This is the Margin of Lead Principle and shall apply wherever necessary in making returns for all elections in accordance with these Regulations and Guidelines’
“Sir, the enabling laws is very clear on what the electoral umpire should do when such issues arise that the principle of margin take it course where the lead between the two leading candidates is in excess of the PVC collected in the affected areas. Let it be noted that in this case the vote margin between the two leading candidates is 262, whereas there are over 1800 pvc collected in the four affected areas.
“We call on the commission (INEC) not to compromise in discharging their constitutional duties on conducting elections in line with enabling laws as that will not only strengthen Nigeria democracy but it will set standard for performance for whoever is elected.
“We are worried by the fact that some information about INEC trying to issue certificate of return to ADC is at our disposal, consequently, warn against testing the will of the people of Kabba Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency.
“While we hope that our prayers as contained in our protest Letter would be granted in line with the stipulated laws, we make bold to State that we will seek legal redress if INEC act otherwise.”
The Deputy Director of the APC campaign Council in Kogi West, Cornelius Olowo said there are 1,157 PVC collectors in the affected polling unit which was substantive enough to tint winning to any side in an election where the margin of leads is not more than 252
Responding on behalf of the State Electoral Officer, Mr Abisabo Yahaya, Head of Department, General Administration and Procurement (INEC) promised to deliver the message to his boss, stressing that the commission will not go outside their regulations and guidelines.