The Delta All Progressives Campaign Campaign Organization has faulted the procedure leading to the emergence of Sheriff Oborevwori of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the March 18 Governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Recall that the INEC Returning Officer, Prof Georgewill Owuneri, had, on Monday, declared that Oborevwori polled a total of 360, 234 to beat Omo-Agege who scored 240, 229 and the LP Candidate who polled 48,047.
Director, of Election and Strategy of the organisation, Mr Godwin Anaughe, made the observation on Monday in a petition forwarded to the Returning Officer, Delta State Governorship 2023 Election, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Asaba, Delta State.
Copies of the petition dated March 20, 2023, were copied by other stakeholders including INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali, and journalists in the state.
He said the voting exercise was mainly characterised by a gross violation of some sections of the Electoral Act 2022 in 19 local government areas of the state.
He listed some local government areas where the malfeasance occurred including Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, Ika South, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Ukwani, Ndokwa East and Ndokwa West in Delta North Senatorial District.
Others include Bomadi (Wards 07, 08 and 09, that is, Akugbene1, Akugbene2 and Akugbene3), Burutu, Patani, Warri North, Warri South West, Warri South, Isoko North in Delta South and Ethiope East, Okpe, Ughelli South (only Wards 04, 05, 07 and 08) and Sapele (Only Wards 02, 03, 05, 08 and 10) in Delta Central.
According to Mr Anaughe, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the polling unit results should, therefore, be reviewed in line with the dictates of the Electoral Act regarding the collation of results.
The petition reads in part:
“Following the conduct and announcement of results, the Electoral Act makes provision for the collation of the announced results to determine the winner of the election.
“The collation of the result of the Delta State Governorship election held on the 18th day of March 2023 is being done across the board without regard to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022. Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act,
“A collation Officer or returning officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election, subject to his or her verification and confirmation that the:
(a) number of accredited voters stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 47(2) of this Act; and
(b) the votes stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 60(4) of this Act”.
“The All Progressives Congress, in the course of this State collation exercise, has raised questions as to the correctness of the votes stated in the collated results being produced from many of the Local Government Areas before the returning officer as it is contemplated under section 64(6) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which provides:
“Where during the collation of results, there is a dispute regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or RETURNING OFFICER shall use the following to determine the correctness of the disputed result-
(a) the original of the disputed collated results for each of the polling units where the election is disputed;
(b) the smart card reader (in this case-the BVAS) used for accreditation of the voters in each polling unit where the election is disputed;
(c) data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47(2) of this Act; and
(d) the votes and results of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed under section 60(4) of this Act”.
For the avoidance of doubt, without prejudice to the correctness of any collated result, as may arise from any inquest, the All Progressives Congress has disputed and is still denying before this Collation Body, the correctness of the collated results from all polling units in the following Local Government Areas of Delta State (as listed above:
“We know for a fact that every Political Party and candidate or its agent has the right to contest the correctness of any collated result under section 64(6) of the Electoral Act, 2023 and once that is done the Collation Officer or Returning Officer has a bounden or mandatory DUTY to inquire into the disputed collated result by taking the steps outlined in this section of the Electoral Act.
“The collation officer does not have discretion in the matter.
“Section 64(5) provides that a collation officer or returning officer shall use the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from the polling unit under section 47(2) of this act and the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from the polling unit under section 60(4) of this act to collate and announce the result of an election if a collated result at his or a lower level of collation is not correct.
“We contend that in the above LGAs, there was a massive bypass of the BVAS and illegal entry of false results.
“The law permits a dispute as to the correctness of any result or collated result to be raised at any stage or level of collation. Once a dispute is raised, the returning officer MUST adopt and follow the procedure in section 64(6)(a)-(d) as quoted above.
“The returning officer has no discretion in the matter. This is the purport of section 64(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which provides:
“Where the dispute under subsection 6 arose at the level of collation and the returning officer has satisfied the provision of subsection 6(a)-(d), the returning officer shall accordingly declare the winner of the election.”
“We invite you to note from the above-quoted provision of section 64(8) that until the returning officer follows the procedure in section 64(6)(a)-(d), he or she has no power to declare the winner of the election, as doing so is tantamount to deliberate and reckless violation of the Electoral Act which itself is an offence punishable under section 64(9) of the Electoral Act 2022, which provides:
“A returning officer or a collation officer, as the case may be commits an offence if he 0r she intentionally collates or announce a false result and is liable on conviction to … imprisonment of at least 3 years or both”.
“Given the totality of the preceding, we demand that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the polling unit results (FORMs EC 8A), FORMs EC8B (WARD LEVEL COLLATED RESULT) and FORMs EC 8C (LOCAL GOVERNMENT COLLATED RESULTS) in the respective areas where the results are disputed be reviewed in line with the dictates of the electoral Act regarding collation of result.
We hope that wise counsel will prevail.”
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