‘It is a matter for legal scrutiny’
Many had anticipated an outright declaration of a winner after PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, polled majority votes of about 254,698 while Gboyega Oyetola of APC came a close second with 254,345 votes, but the 353 votes’ difference between the two compelled the returning officer, Joseph Fuwape, to declare the exercise inconclusive.
Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Akure, explained that a rerun election had to be conducted, saying that INEC’s election guideline stipulates a rerun if the margin of victory in an election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled.
Thursday, September 27 has been fixed for the rerun election and it may be considered as crucial as the election. Incidentally, reactions have continued to trail the inconclusive poll and its implications on the electoral process.
Vice President, Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the INEC was right to have declared the outcome of the election inconclusive because it was in accordance with the commission is guidelines. He maintained that there were problems in some polling units, stressing that since the total number of registered voters were 3000, it could make a lot of difference in the outcome of the election if they voted.
According to him, “INEC was on ground, and in their findings and wisdom they said there were problems in those polling units, which necessitated the cancellations. So it is not for me now to judge that. INEC has cover under the law. They are right if the total registered voters in the area is 3000 and the difference between Adeleke and Oyetola is just 353; that allows them to call the election inconclusive, which is actually what they have done.”
However, Former National secretary, Nigeria Bar Association, Chief Philip Umeh, said the PDP ought have been declared the winner, even as he advised the party to prepare for the re-run election and should they lose, head to the tribunal.
“PDP from the result won by a slight majority and the law is very clear that that is required to win in an election, more so when they have covered all the local governments. The law didn’t say that you ought to get a particular majority beyond what has been recorded and there are certain judicial authorities from the Supreme Court that ruled even when votes are canceled that they no longer count.
“The INEC guideline cannot supersede the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; they should seek proper legal advice. It is unfortunate now because having taken a decision, it cannot be easy for INEC to overrule itself and I think that if I were the party, it is now a matter for the court and what they should do is to prepare for a re-run and if by chance PDP does not win, I think INEC has given the party a ground for petition in tribunal. They can go to tribunal and ask it to hold that they won the election.”