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Protests as INEC suspends election results in Adamawa, Abia, Enugu

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja) Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Yemi Adepetun, Kehinde Olatunji, Gbenga Salau (Lagos), Godwin Ijediogor and Monday Osayande, (Asaba) Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki) Tina Agosi Todo (Calabar), Bala Yahaya (Minna), Abel Abogonye (Lafia), Murtala Adewale (Kano) Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi), Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna), Samson Kukwa-Yanor (Makurdi), Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt
21 March 2023   |   4:30 am
Following the dissatisfaction of some electorate in the management of the governorship and state assembly elections, protests rocked some states, yesterday, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Supporters of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asking Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare PDP winner at the INEC office in Enugu…yesterday. PHOTO:NAN<br />

• 2023 election lacked transparency, damaged public confidence in INEC, says EU
• Sani, Sule, Oborevwori, Fubara, Yusuf, others declared winners

Following the dissatisfaction of some electorate in the management of the governorship and state assembly elections, protests rocked some states, yesterday, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Angry voters objected to the delay tactics of the electoral body in releasing the results and the alleged discrepancies in the election results signed by party agents against what was uploaded at INEC portal.

As post-election crisis was gathering momentum, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria’s 2023 general elections declared, that owing to lack of transparency and operational failures, Nigerians have lost confidence and trust in INEC.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, to present the Mission’s second preliminary reports, the Chief Observer, Barry Andrews, noted that although Nigerians had great appetite for democracy and were keen to engage in various civic activities, their expectations were dashed. According to him, the apathy recorded at the governorship and states House of Assembly elections conducted last Saturday was a clear consequence of failures by political elites and “unfortunately, INEC.”

Andrews said: “Obstruction and organised violence limited the free expression of the will of the voters, despite efforts by civil society to promote democratic standards.

“Throughout the Mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities. However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part, a clear consequence of failures by political elites, and unfortunately, also by INEC.

“Positively, INEC introduced some corrective measures ahead of Saturday’s polls, allowing a timely delivery of sensitive materials and improved use of election technologies, yet, the institution continued to lack transparency.”

The Mission also observed that voting started early with INEC ad-hoc officials present and ready to serve voters, but the exercise was unfortunately, disrupted by “multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists.”

The Mission noted that Lagos, Kano, and other States in the Southern, Northern and Central parts of the country were mostly affected, adding that the election was equally characterised by casualties, fatalities, as well as vote-buying, which according to the observers, further detracted from an appropriate conduct of elections.

“EU EOM observers also saw misuse of administrative resources, including through various financial and in-kind inducements to voters, giving an undue advantage to the party in power. Furthermore, the protracted deadlines for candidacy disputes created uncertainty for voters and electoral contestants alike, while clear underrepresentation of women as candidates demonstrated a stark lack of internal party policies to support constitutionally prescribed inclusion, also contrary to Nigeria’s international commitments to eradicate discrimination against women”, the Mission stated.

The Commission, however, declared the governorship election in Kebbi, Enugu, Abia and Adamawa states inconclusive as hoodlums attacked collation centres in Abia and Yola.

INEC said the suspected party thugs surrounded the centre and did not allow people entrance. The stalemate was caused by the election results from Fufore local council.

The incumbent governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and the only female governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishat Dahiru Binani, are slugging it out there.
ON suspension of collation of governorship results in Abia and Enugu, INEC said it followed Sunday’s invasion of the Commission’s office by thugs in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia state.

The Commission also said a review of the results for the governorship election from the two outstanding LGAs of Nsukka and Nkanu East in Enugu called for suspension of collation.

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

He said: “The Commission met today, Monday March 20, 2023 and reviewed the conduct of the governorship and state Assembly elections held nationwide on Saturday March 18, 2023. Arising from the meeting, the Commission took the decision to suspend forthwith further collation of the governorship election results in some parts of Abia and Enugu States.

“It will be recalled that our office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday, Sunday March 19, 2023 and our officials held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area. Similarly, reports from Enugu State call for a review of the results for the governorship election from the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Nsukka and Nkanu East.

“Consequently, the Commission hereby suspends the collation of results in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Enugu State, which are yet to be collated. A review will be undertaken immediately before the process is concluded.

AS the delay lingered, protests erupted in Enugu State as supporters of the PDP and LP stormed the headquarters of INEC over the alleged manipulation of Saturday’s governorship election result.

While LP had complained of over voting in Nkanu East local council on the ground that the area returned over 30,000 votes in favour of the PDP candidate, Peter Mbah, against the 7,000 accredited voters by the BVAS, the PDP protested that there were intimidation and harassment of voters in Nsukka local council. Nsukka had equally returned over 30,000 votes in favour of the LP candidate, Chijioke Edeoga.

KANO State police command, yesterday, threatened to deal ruthlessly with any resident who violated the dust to dawn curfew declared by the state government.

The police handed the warning in a statement issued by SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, spokesperson of the command.

According to police, the long-awaited 2023 general election in Nigeria has come and gone. The security concern, it said, is now focusing on the way people celebrate the election victory.

“It’s important to note that celebrations should always respect and be mindful of the fact that the people celebrating are inclusive of all people, regardless of political beliefs, religion or culture.

“It’s on the foregoing that the Police command is calling on the good people of the state to respect the rules and regulations regarding gatherings and celebration of election victories,” Kiyawa said.
ALSO, members of the PDP in Lafia, Nasarawa and Awe local councils staged peaceful protest, claiming that INEC tilted results in favour of APC.

PDP chairman in the state, Francis Orogu, alleged that security personnel and INEC officials connived with the APC to alter the results.

Meanwhile APC in Bauchi State has rejected the result of Saturday’s governorship election that declared Governor Bala Mohammed as the winner.

The party’s agent at the state collation centre, Abdulmumini Kundak described the election as a ‘sham’. In a letter of complaint submitted to the Resident Electoral Commissioner titled: “Complaint of massive rigging, violence and electoral malpractice, which marred the Bauchi State governorship election conducted on March 18”, the party called for cancellation of results in affected local government areas.

Governor Mohammed of the PDP was declared winner, having polled 525,280 votes against his closest rival, Sadique Abubakar of the APC who polled 432,272 votes.

Kundak in the protest letter claimed that APC party agents were chased away by PDP thugs in Alkaleri local council, while ballot papers were thumb-printed without the BVAS.

He also said there was violence in Toro local council and an operative of the Department of State Service (DSS) was beaten by PDP thugs and was receiving treatment at a hospital. He added that there were gunshot, intimidation and harassment of APC members.

The party chieftain claimed further that the same was applicable to Warji, Zaki and Kirfi local councils with massive over voting and violence. Kundak declined to assent to the INEC Form EC8 for political party agents.

KADUNA State Government raised security alert ahead of the announcement of the result, claiming intelligence reports indicating plans by some individuals and groups to spread disaffection and instigate violence in Kaduna Metropolis and other major towns in the state.

In a statement by the state Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, he alleged security agencies were conducting investigations into the reports that some particular people plan to foment trouble.

This followed the declaration of Senator Uba Sani of the ruling APC winner of the election in Kaduna State with a slight margin over the PDP’s, Isa Ashiru.

Declaring the result, the State Collation Officer for Gubernatorial Election (SCOGE), Prof. Lawal Suleiman Bilbis, said the number of registered voters in the state are 4,335,208, accredited voters 1,581,662, valid votes cast are 1,546,747, invalid votes 19,114 and total votes cast 1,565,861.

Prof. Bilbis said Sani of the APC polled 730,002 votes, while Ashiru scored a total of 719,196 votes.

According to him, Sani, having scored the highest number of valid votes and met the requirements of the law, and was “declared the winner and returned elected.”

He gave the total votes scored by the political parties in the states as follows: APC: 730,002, LP: 58,283, NNPP: 21,405 and PDP: 719,196.

Ashiru won in 13 local government areas of Kaura, Sanga, Kajuru, Makarfi, Jaba, Jema’a, Zangon Kataf, Soba, Chikun, Kagarko, Lere, Kachia and Kudan, while Sani won only in 10 local government areas of Giwa, Ikara, Kauru, Sabon Gari, Kubau, Zaria, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi and Birnin-Gwari.

Lagos State Governor and candidate of APC, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday thanked residents of the state for re-electing him into office.

He spoke after the Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Olanike Oladiji, declared him winner of the exercise.

Sanwo-Olu polled 762,134 votes to defeat the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who scored 312,329. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran came distant third with 62, 449 votes.

He said: “Election is over, governance and dividend of democracy is next and that is the commitment from me and my deputy. We are extending a hand of fellowship as there is no victor and vanquish.”

Meanwhile, Lagos LP chairman, Pastor Dayo Ekong, has rejected the outcome of the election and called for the cancellation of the exercise. She said: “This election is a sham, marred by several irregularities, including over voting, ballot snatching, violence, intimidation and suppression of voters, as well as thuggery. Labour Party rejects this result and demands its cancellation in Lagos,” she stated.

SPEAKER, Delta State House of Assembly and PDP candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori, trounced APC candidate, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, to emerge winner of the election in the state.

Oborevwori polled 360,234 votes, while Omo-Agege got 240,229 votes in a keenly contested election.

The Returning Officer, who is also the Vice Chancellor, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Prof. Owunari Abraham Georgewill, declared Oborevwori, the winner, having scored the highest number of votes, as well as fulfilling all the requirements of the law. The LP candidate, Ken Pella, came third with 48,047 votes.

The governor-elect won 21 of the 25 local councils, while Omo-Agege won in only four councils.

However, the APC Collation Agent, Henry Efe-Duku, has rejected the results, saying there was massive rigging in most polling units across the state.

While appealing to party supporters to remain calm and go about their normal businesses, Efe-Duku said INEC did not follow the Electoral Act in most polling units, vowing that APC and its candidate would challenge the results at the Tribunal.

IN Ebonyi State, APC candidate, Francis Nwifuru, was declared winner of the governorship election, defeating his closest opponent, Chief Ifeanyi Odii of the PDP.

Announcing the result at INEC headquarters in Abakaliki, the State Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof. Charles Igwe said Nwifuru polled total votes of 199,131, while Odii got 80,191. APGA polled 52,189 to come third.

Nwifuru, who is also Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, expressed happiness over his victory and described residents of the state as the winners.

INEC also declared the governorship candidate of the APC in Cross River State, Senator Prince Bassey Otu, as winner of the election.

Otu won in 15 out of 18 local councils with 258,619 against the candidate of the PDP, Senator Sandy Onor who polled 179,636 votes, while Mr. Ogar Osim of the LP scored 5,957 votes.

Announcing the results yesterday, at the state collation centre, the INEC Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Otueke, Bayelsa, Prof. Teddy Charles Adies, said: “I have the honour to declare Otu Bassey Edet, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected.”

IN Niger State, APC governorship candidate, Umar Mohammed Bago, defeated Isah Liman Kantigi of the PDP to win the election.

Bago polled 469,896 votes against Kantigi, who got 387,476 votes.

Announcing the results of 25 local councils, the state Returning Officer and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Abuja, Professor Clement Alawa, said Bago scored the highest votes and satisfied all conditions to declare him governor-elect of the state.
INEC also declared the APC candidate and governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule as the winner of the exercise.

The state Returning Officer, Professor Ishaya Tanko said Sule polled 347, 209 votes to defeat his closest opponent, David Ombugadu, of the PDP, who got 283, 016 votes.

In another victory for APC, governor Babagana Zulum was declared winner of the governorship election in Borno State with 545, 543 votes, while Mohammed Ali Jajari of the PDP clinched 15, 601 votes.

The votes were won across the 27 Local Government Areas in the state.

INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Jude Rabo, said Zulum satisfied the requirements of the law and so, was declared returned and re-elected.

Rabo explained that the total registered voters are 2.51 million, while 650, 533 voters were accredited during the exercise.

According to him, 649, 855 votes were cast in the election.

The Governor won with 1.2 million votes in the 2019 election, indicating that there is a drop of 664, 457 votes in this year’s elections.

IN Plateau, INEC declared Caleb Mutfwang, a lawyer, as the winner of the governorship election. He ran on the platform of the PDP.

The Returning Officer of the election, Prof. Idris Amali said Mutfwang polled a total of 525,299 votes to beat his closest contender, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda of the APC, who polled a total of 481,370 votes. LP candidate, Dr. Patrick Dakum emerged third with about 60,000 votes.

Prof. Amali stated that Mutfwang met all the requirements of the law, and so, was declared the winner.

APC’s Rev Fr Hycienth Alia is Benue state Governor-Elect

A Rev Fr., Hycienth Iormem Alia was declared winner of the 2023 gubernatorial election in Benue state.

Declaring the results at the INEC office located at the Jonah Jang Crescent in Makurdi, the Returning Officer, Faruk Adamu Kuta said Alia satisfied the requirements of the law.

According to Kuta, the results of 22 Local Government Councils out of the 23 where elections held, showed the APC candidate scored 473, 933 votes, followed by the PDP’s Engr. Titus Uba with 223, 913 votes and LP’s Herman Hembe, who scored 41, 841 votes. Prof. Bem Angwe of the NNPP came fourth with 1, 187 votes.

Owing to a mix-up in the printing of the ballot papers for Kwande LGA, elections there have been rescheduled for (today) Tuesday 21st March 2023.

INEC said that the total number of voters who have collected their PVC’s in Kwande local government is 156, 826. Alia leads his closest opponent with a vote difference of 250, 020, meaning that if all the votes in Kwande were to go to PDP, APC will still win.

According to the Returning Officer, total valid votes cast was 756, 903, total rejected votes 11, 499 and total valid votes cast was 768, 402.