Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Supplementary polls: Observer groups slam ‘Poor INEC’ · Tambuwal, Ganduje in lucky escape · Useni heads to tribunal · Bauchi knows fate Monday

The March 23 supplementary polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in five states of Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Kano and Sokoto, have been described by observer groups as poor and characterized by impunity.

The slamming is coming on the heels of the electoral victories of Samuel Ortom of Benue, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, Simon Lalong of Plateau and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto.

However, the final announcement for Bauchi is yet to be declared following a high court injunction in Abuja against the announcement of Tafewa Balewa result which will now be known on Monday when the court is expected to rule on the matter.

The APC and its candidate had gone to court to challenge the announcement of the result from Tafewa Balewa which gave the PDP candidate an unassailable lead.

But the result of the supplementary election saw the PDP candidate Bala Mohammed ahead of the incumbent governor.

On Sunday, the Centre for Democracy and Development’s, CDD, Election Analysis Centre expressed regrets over the supplementary polls and urged an end to “electoral impunity” in the country in order for democracy to deepen in the country.

In its preliminary report on the supplementary gubernatorial elections that held in five states of the federation on Saturday, March 23, the CDD decried widespread instances of violence, vote buying, voter intimidation, underage voting, and harassment of journalists in several of the polling units where the supplementary elections were held across Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states.

“The CDD is immensely worried about the quality of elections, in particular, the renewed thuggery and brigandage being visited on the polity by the political class. These shameful acts are not just capable of truncating our democracy but importantly eroding the trust of the citizenry in the democratic process itself,” the report read in part.

“The ongoing elections have again pointed out the need for a broader electoral accountability framework and in particular the political will to pursue accountability. It is time for Nigeria and her partners to put an end to electoral impunity if democracy must be preserved.”

It further observed that “Evidence suggests a deliberate deployment of political thugs in the election, to suppress voters, intimidate officials and skew the polls in favour of some political actors,” the report read further.

“The new weaponisation of thuggery is extremely disturbing and disappointing following twenty years of uninterrupted democracy in the country.

“CDD will also want to point out that the way thuggery was instrumentalised in the elections queries the essence of the massive deployment of security agents to guard the polls. In several instances, the security (officials) was reported to have turned a blind eye to the act of brigandage perpetrated by these political thugs.”

 

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had assured Nigerians of adequate security during the supplementary elections, but that assurance came to nothing as reports by journalists and election observers across the states show that violence were widespread.

In a similar light, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room challenged the INEC to put an end to supplementary elections in Nigeria.

Clement Nwankwo, convener of the coalition of 70 civil society groups, said this at a press conference in Abuja on the observation of the elections.

According to Nwankwo, it appears that the rerun process was now a manipulation tool to circumvent the will of the electorate.

Nwankwo said that the group deployed observers for the supplementary governorship elections in Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states and noticed some ills.

He noted that some flaws observed were recurrent in Nigeria’s elections and as a country they ought to be condemned.

He listed the flaws to include voter intimidation and insecurity that resulted in shooting of a returning officer in Benue.

“The widespread incidents of violence, thuggery and abuse of the electoral process, especially as reported in Gama ward of Kano must be addressed by INEC.

“Situation Room believes that the level of abuse recorded in Gama ward is of such monumental proportions as to necessitate INEC expunging the outcome of the supposed voting results from the final collation.

“Safety of election day workers, INEC and ad hoc staff, observers is not guaranteed and portends great danger for future elections in Nigeria.

“Actions of political parties and their supporters continue to undermine the confidence in our electoral process as well as the rights of citizens to participate fully in election and cast their votes without fear,” he said.

Nwankwo specifically complained about the incidences of violence as recorded in some local government areas in Bauchi, Kano and Benue where thugs threw stones at voters.

In a related development, the governorship candidate of the PDP in Plateau State, Jeremiah Useni, has rejected the results of the governorship polls and has headed to the tribunal.

The electoral commission had declared Mr. Lalong winner of the election on Sunday

But at a press briefing, Useni said, “My team and I have gone through both the official results released by INEC and the documents submitted by our own field staff.

“We have every reason to believe that justice has not been done to our people in this election because there was massive rigging and electoral shortcomings.

“After due consultation, I hereby state that the results announced by INEC is not acceptable to us. Consequently, we have requested our legal team to activate all the due processes to reclaim our cherished mandate at the tribunal and by the grace of God, we will overturn and recover the people’s mandate”

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