The National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the declaration of Governor Dapo Abiodun as the winner of the March 18 gubernatorial poll in Ogun State as it pointed out that the cancelled votes are not more than the total number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in the area affected.
Addressing a press conference at the National secretariat of the party in Abuja on Saturday, the National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition party, Debo Ologunagba, stated that the declaration of Abiodun as the winner is completely at variance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Guidelines issues by INEC for the conduct of the election.
The party has, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to review its activities to ensure that the will of the people prevails.
He said: “Specifically, from the summary of collated results at the governorship election, it is evident that our candidate was in the clear lead before compromised officials of INEC connived with the defeated All Progressives Congress (APC) to cancel PDP’s thousands of winning votes and brazenly declare the Candidate of the APC, Mr Adedapo Abiodun as the winner, in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“It is instructive for INEC to note that with the cancelled votes, the margin of lead between Mr Adedapo Abiodun of the APC and the PDP Governorship Candidate, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu is not more than the total number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in Polling Units where election did not hold or cancelled by INEC, citing disruption of polls.
“Whereas the number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in places where elections were not held or cancelled is 33,750, the margin of lead between the two candidates as announced by INEC Returning Officer is 13,915 thereby invalidating the Declaration and Return made by INEC.
“In such circumstance, Section 24 (3) (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 expressly mandates INEC to appoint a new date for the conduct of the polls in the Polling Units where the election did not hold or cancelled before any Return can be made.”
For clarity, the PDP spokesman cited Section 24 (3) (4) of the Electoral Act, which expressly stipulates in S. 24 that: (3) “Where an election has commenced and there is reason to believe that there is or has been substantial disruption of election in a polling unit or constituency or it is impossible to continue with the election occasioned by the threat to peace and security of electoral officials and materials, the Commission shall suspend the election and appoint another date for the continuation of the election or the process.
“(4) Where the Commission appoints a substituted date by subsections (2) and (3), there shall be no return for the election until polling has taken place in the area or areas affected.”
According to the PDP, the hurried declaration of the APC candidate by the INEC Returning Officer as the winner is therefore a declaration made contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, Regulations and Guidelines stipulated by INEC for the election.
Ologunagba added: “In a situation such as this, the only option available to INEC is to exercise its powers under Section 65 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to review the wrongful Declaration and Return made within seven days.”
He added that for the avoidance of doubt, Section 65 (1) provides that: “The decision of the returning officer shall be final on any question arising from or relating to— (a) unmarked ballot paper; (b) rejected ballot paper; and (c) declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate:
“Provided that the Commission shall have the power within seven days to review the declaration and return where the Commission determines that the said declaration and return were not made voluntarily or was made contrary to the provisions of the law, regulations and guidelines, and manual for the election.”
The PDP megaphone further stated: “It is therefore reckless and highly condemnable that INEC would cancel PDP’s winning votes and hurriedly Declare and Return the defeated candidate of the APC as the winner, in gross violation of the Law and total disregard for the Will of the people as expressed at the election.”
The PDP cautioned INEC to “save Ogun State an imminent breakdown of Law and Order by reviewing the Declaration and Return made,” adding: “INEC must realize that the people of Ogun State are already agitated and are unwilling to accept a declaration that does not reflect their expressed Will at the election.”
Ologunagba informed that the PDP is also reviewing other states where the electoral umpire behaved similarly, adding: “We want to be sure that we give the facts as they are.”
The PDP, however, welcomed the Court of Appeal verdict affirming the election of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State, saying that it is a confirmation of the people’s choice.
While appreciating the affirmation of the desire of the people, Ologunagba noted that PDP’s faith in Judiciary has been strengthened.
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