INEC must conduct rerun election in Abia North ― Senator Ohuanbuwa
The Senator representing Abia North, Senator Mao Ohuanbuwa said on Wednesday that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must conduct rerun elections in parts of Abia North Senatorial District where elections were disrupted on February 23.
The senator in a statement by his campaign coordinator Ukpai Ukairo Esq had already written two separate petitions to the INEC dated February 24 and 25 respectively with which he called for rerun elections.
He said that the demand was in line with section 33 (e) Rule 17 E (e) of the Electoral Act.
A statement from him on Wednesday read in part: “The campaign organization and indeed the entire good people of Abia north are however at shock over the long silence of INEC over Abia north senatorial election even when there are precedence and shreds of evidence to right the wrong here and save the zone of imminent crisis.
“As a law abiding citizen we have today filed a suit before a federal high court Umuahia Abia state asking it to restrain INEC from issuing a certificate of return to the APC candidate, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu in the said inconclusive election in Abia north.
“The PDP candidate, senator Ohuabunwa in the ex-parte motion filed by his lead counsel Chief Ukpai Ukairo is asking the court to stop the commission from recognising the APC candidate as duly elected. The organization had earlier in a petition to the commission insisted that it will amount to double standard for INEC issue certificate of return to Kalu despite our petition.
“We are worried about the inability of the commission to make a public pronouncement on the matter.
“This conspiracy of silence must end now, Abia north cannot be different. INEC has done it before ( rerun)in some states and senatorial elections where the number of votes cancelled was higher than the marginal lead.
It’s also important to note that the candidate of the APC for Abia north senatorial election Chief Orji Uzor Kalu scored a total of 31,000 votes while the PDP candidate Senator Ohuabunwa was alloted 21, 000 votes. And we argued in the petition that INEC should order for a rerun since the marginal lead which is about 10,400 votes is far below the cancelled votes of about 38,000 by INEC.
“Note also that the returning officer Dr Anumudu did not make any official return for Abia north and one wonder why the APC candidate in the inconclusive election is parading himself as Senator-elect for Abia north.
“We specifically asked Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Abia State to direct the Returning Officer of the Abia North Senatorial Election to make the requisite declaration in accordance with the dictates of Rule 17E(e) of the guidelines for the conduct of elections issued by INEC by cancelling the elections completely.
Rule 33(e) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines For The Conduct Of Elections, 2019, stipulates that where the number of cancelled votes outnumbers the difference in the vote of a ‘leading candidate’, such election shall be deemed to be inconclusive.
“From what the Independent National Electoral Commission purports to have as result of Abia-North senatorial election, the gap between the Senatorial Candidate of All Progressives Congress, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, and the Candidate of our Party; Distinguished Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, is only ten thousand and four hundred votes.
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“On the other hand, votes cancelled in Arochukwu and Nkporo alone amount to more than thirty-eight thousand.
“By the aforesaid Rule 33(e) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines, Saturday’s senatorial election in Abia-North should have been declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission because the margin of lead between the leading candidates which is 10,400 (ten thousand four hundred) is less than the cancelled votes of over 38,000 (thirty-eight thousand).
“In the case of Osun governorship election of September 2018, INEC was quick to order a rerun because the marginal lead by the PDP candidate senator Adeleke in the election, 353 votes was far below the cancelled vote of 2,637 in the election. Adeleke had won the main election with 353 votes, but he was not declared the winner. The governorship elections of Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Plateau and others were declared inconclusive for similar reasons.
“ The big question that INEC needs to answer is why is it difficult for it to order a rerun for Abia north, even when it has been established that the number of cancelled votes, 38, 000 was far above the marginal lead of about 10.400. The delay in taking this honourable decision in the case of Abia north is criminal and illegal.
“We ask the commission reverse this illegality as it has done in the case of Orlu senatorial election where the commission was reported to have removed the name Governor Rochas Okorocha from the list of senators-elect due to be issued a certificate of return tomorrow. Now that the evidence are overwhelming that the returning may have acted in error, it’s important the commission reverse.
“We do not want to accuse INEC of double standard here but we demand that the commission does not bow to pressure by the APC candidate.