• Monday, July 22, 2024
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IPAC asks INEC to immediately declare Enugu guber winner

IPAC asks INEC to immediately declare Enugu guber winner

The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Enugu State, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to urgently declare the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state, saying the Commission had no powers under Nigerian laws to suspend or review already collated results.

IPAC made the call at a press conference in Enugu on Tuesday addressed by its State Chairman, Edwin Alor, warning that further delay could worsen the restiveness and protests among Enugu masses.

The body advised the election management that the collation centre was not an Election Tribunal, adding that confusion arising from the election was needless.

IPAC said: “We observed the needless confusion and restiveness caused by the delay in the announcement of the final result of March 18, 2023, Enugu gubernatorial election and the declaration of the winner.

“We note that the results of the 17 Local Government Areas (LGAs), including those of Nkanu East and Nsukka LGAs, were all collated by the Returning Officer on March 19, 2023. By the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the only other duty remaining for the State Returning Officer, who is acting on INEC’s behalf is to add up the figures, announce them, and declare the winner in line with Section 64 (8) of the Electoral Act 2022.

“We state that the cancellation of already made return by a Returning Officer can only be made if the Returning Officer made the return under duress and such complaint must come from the officer in question. This clearly does not apply to the Enugu situation.

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“But the law in Section 130(1) of the Electoral Act is also mindful to make provisions for the adjudication of any complaint against a return made by the Returning Officer.

“Section 130(1) provides: ‘No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in any manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or undue return presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, and in which the person elected or returned is joined as a party.”

“The collation centre is not an Election Tribunal or the law court where redress is sought. The State Collation Centre is to accept results as they come, collate and announce them, and ultimately declare the winner.

“Consequently, it is our strong view that the INEC Returning Officer has discharged his statutory responsibility by collating the results of all the 17 local government areas, including those of Nkanu East LGA and Nkanu East Local Government Areas. The remaining responsibility for the State Returning Officer is to announce results and declare the winner. INEC cannot be a judge in its own case, if any.

“We call INEC’s attention to the case of the Presidential and National Assembly elections where its Chairman, Prof Yakub Mahmood, stood his ground, completed the collation process and announced the result despite all protest.

“Equally, the elections in Ebonyi state, Rivers State and Lagos State, which were fraught with violence, ballot box snatching, over-voting and all sorts of complaints were declared despite these shortcomings.

“So, we see no good reason why the announcement of the final results and declaration of the winner in the Enugu governorship election, which is adjudged comparatively free, fair and credible should be placed on hold because of the desperation of a few individuals and at the expense of the masses who freely exercised their franchise and made a statement through the ballot.

“We are therefore, urging the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu state and the State Returning Officer to as a matter of urgency do the needful by announcing the result of governorship election without delay and declare the winner with immediate effect. Any action short of this will be outside the law and could bring anarchy to an already fragile situation.”