The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to amend the Electoral Act to address the problem of inconclusive elections.
House of Representatives is particularly worried by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declaration of inconclusive elections in many States and constituencies, making mockery of the country’s electoral system.
The House reached this resolution Wednesday at the plenary presided by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Sunday Karimi calling on INEC not to subvert the will of the people by resorting to the provisions of its guidelines (relating to inconclusive elections) but to adhere to the Constitution and allow aggrieved parties to proceed to the relevant Election Tribunals in order to ensure peace and security and to promote the credibility of the Electoral Process.
Karimi (Kogi: PDP) remarked that since the November 21st, 2015 Gubernatorial Election in Kogi State, inconclusive elections has become a demon hunting the Nigerian Electoral System, thereby eroding the confidence of the electorate in the electoral system.
He argued that the escalating trend of inconclusive elections has cast a shadow on the neutrality of INEC as an umpire in the electoral process, stressing that the declaration of elections as inconclusive has become a tool to subvert the will of the electorates in the country.
While insisting that INEC should not be allowed to continue to whimsically declare elections inconctusive, Karimi asserted that the combined effect of Section 134, 179, 111 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) and 26(1) as well as Section 53(2)&(3) of the Electoral Act shows that inconclusive elections was not envisaged in the country’s law, except where there was over-voting in a polling unit, not where votes already cast were cancelled.
Ali Madaki (Kano: PDP) in his contribution, recalled that the circumstances that led to thee declaration of the Kano governorship poll inconclusive was a clear indication that INEC is now a tool in the hands of powerful forces within the ruling All progressive congress, APC to subvert the will of the people.
Madaki who served as the PDP agent in the kano governorship poll accused INEC of encouraging thuggery and violence over the ugly trend.
He stated that, “what we went through in the last one month was war. What happened in the last one month is akin to military coup. The section of the electoral act that we are talking about, which give INEC the power to declare election inconclusive, that is Section 26 of the Electoral Act. I know for a fact that the constitution of Nigeria is supreme. It is above any other law made by us or made by anybody.
“And the constitution of Nigeria of Nigeria is very clear about what you need to do to declare a winner in an election but for one reason or the other, but in most cases INEC has shown not to be independent because in states where PDP is winning the elections have been declared inconclusive.
“We know for a fact that all the ballot papers used in Kano are still there intact with INEC. Even the original result sheets that were torn; it was the result that were torn, it was the duplicate. We submitted it to them they said it has passed through hands so they cannot use it again. We then told them the professor who collected this result is here, let him look at it, is it his document or has it been tampered with they said no, they went and declared our election inconclusive.
“We are talking about the integrity of President Muhammdu Buhari – his integrity, if he has any, is being questioned seriously. If he is watching, he has been declared as a winner while the margin of victory is less than the number of canceled votes all over Nigeria but he has been declared winner and our candidates of PDP in six states of northern Nigerian have been declared as inconclusive and from information available to me, in the next two weeks when we are going for the election, they will use every resources available and declare APC as winners in these elections. Let me sound a note of warning that we will not take it.”
Diri Douye (Bayelsa : PDP) who expressed concern over the development argued that the national assembly should blame itself for allowing primordial sentiments override that of national interest after President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the electoral amendment bill (2018) which would have entrenched the transmission of technology in the transmission of results.
Femi Gbajabiamila, House Leader who supported the move to amend the Electoral Act, however cautioned against the usurpation of the powers conferred on the judicial arm to interprete the laws of the country.
Gbajabiamila argued that until the Electoral Act is amended, INEC which is empowered to conduct and regulate elections was empowered to declare election inconclusive based on the pronouncement of the supreme court after it adjudicated on the disputed Kogi governorship poll in 2016.
Gbajabiamila stressed that the House would abide by the abiding principles of ensuring that every votes must be made to count and that no eligible voter must be allowed to be disenfranchised.
Mohammed Soba (Kaduna: PDP), Dan Archibong (Akwa Ibom: PDP), Mark Gbillah (Benue: PDP), Tajudeen Yusuf (Kogi: PDP) and Abubakar Chika (Niger: APC) all spoke in favour of the motion, lamenting that the 2019 poll remains the worst ever conducted poll in the country.
James Kwen, Abuja