Supplementary election: INEC reveals what it would do if court continues to stop elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has provided update on Supplementary election taking place in 18 states on Saturday.

Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, gave the update at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja.

Okoye said that the election scheduled for Saturday, March 23, would take place in 18 states.

Okoye, however, said election would not hold in Bauchi due to litigation initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Muhammed Abubakar, on the state governorship election, on the collation of results in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

He explained that while the commission has complied due to its policy to obey all court orders, in defence of the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.

“It should, however, be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affect the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa LGA.

“Consequently, the supplementary election will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, March 23, in the other 15 LGAs of Bauchi State as well as the Kirfi State Constituency Supplementary election in Kirfi LGA.”

On what the commission would do if the court stoppage on Bauchi election continues, Okoye said that INEC has the result but it would continue to obey court order, even while the process must be concluded before April 29.

“The truth of the matter is that this process has a constitutional window.

“We must complete the processes related to this governorship election and this whole election before the April 29, 2019.

“Anything outside that will fall out of the constitution order and will become a Constitutional crisis. So, the people of Bauchi must know who their governor is on or before April 29,” he said.

He added, “Some of you are already aware that the commission has conducted election in 29 states and returns have been made in 22 of those states.

“While the election was suspended in Rivers, it was declared inconclusive in six states; Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Sokoto and Kano,’’ he said.

“Similarly, the Adamawa State High court issued an injunction restraining the commission from proceeding with the supplementary election following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party which did not take part in the main election.

“While the commission has also complied with the order, it has equally taken steps to vacate it and dismiss the action.

“Notwithstanding the legal action over the Supplementary Governorship election, elections will hold in Nassarawo/Binyeri State Constituency in Mayo –Belwa LGA.

“This is where the election has to be countermanded following the death of a candidate before the poll, as well as the supplementary State Constituency election and Uba/Gaya State Constituency in Hong LGA.”

The national commissioner, while appealing to stakeholders support, urged all registered voters in the affected areas where election would be conducted, to come out and cast their vote.

“Arising from the meeting held on the March 19, between INEC and security agencies, the later has given assurance of adequate security, professional conduct and unimpeded access to all levels of the election.

“INEC situation room will be activated on Saturday, March 23.

He added that all observers and the media accredited for 2019 general elections were free to observe the elections.

Okoye also disclosed that Certificates of Return to governors-elect would be presented by supervising National Commissioners of the respective states to be assisted by state Resident Electoral Commissioners between Wednesday March 27 and March 29.

“The precise date for the presentation in each state shall be made known by the respective resident electoral commissioner after consultation with their supervising national commissioners.

“For the State Houses of Assembly, the date of presentation of Certificates of Return to the respective winners will be announced in due course.’’