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Kogi West Senatorial Election: INEC hasn’t taken final decision

By Ibrahim Obansa, Lokoja
27 October 2019   |   4:14 am
Controversy has continued to trail the recent judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja, which sacked Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West district.

Staff separate ballot boxes before delivery to polling stations ahead of Nigeria’s Presidential election at an office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria, on February 14, 2019. Nigeria’s presidential candidates wrapped up their election campaigns, making a final pitch to voters before Africa’s most populous country heads into the polls on February 16, 2019. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Controversy has continued to trail the recent judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja, which sacked Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West district.

The appellant court had ordered a fresh election in the senatorial district, which has set the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on edge. The alleged initial pronouncement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the re-run Senatorial election could be held during the November 2019 governorship election generating controversy.

Reacting to the ruling, INEC suggested it would explore the possibility of using the November 16 governorship election to conduct a fresh election for Kogi West Senatorial district.

INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara States, Mohammed Haruna, dropped the hint in Lokoja, while fielding questions from journalists on the Court of Appeal judgment nullifying Dino Melaye’s election.

Haruna said since the governorship election was still 34 days away, there was possibility for it to hold the same day.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had ordered INEC to conduct fresh election within 90 days of its judgment.

The judgment was based on the petition filed by Senator Smart Adeyemi, APC candidate in the last February election.

Meanwhile, Dino Melaye has alleged that Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello bribed INEC not to hold the November election.

A statement issued and made available to newsmen said: “Apparently threatened by the widespread popularity and rising acceptance of Dino Melaye and the PDP by majority of people of Kogi West Senatorial district, Governor Yahaya Bello has launched serious lobby and bribery as a strategy to compel INEC to either rescind or dismiss its considerations on the possibility of conducting fresh Kogi West Senatorial election alongside the forthcoming governorship election in November.

“Since this declaration by INEC, Bello who is hell-bent on foisting his candidate, Smart Adeyemi on the good people of Kogi West, has since perfected plans to bribe, pressure and compel INEC not to hold the election on November 16, 2019, due to the fact that it won’t allow APC and the governor to unleash violence on the opposition, intimidation of voters, cart away ballot boxes and manipulate the entire process to forcefully install Smart Adeyemi, who was roundly defeated twice by Senator Dino Melaye.

“For the avoidance of doubt, INEC top echelons observed that holding the Senate election simultaneously will reduce cost, time and hurdles, as the same personnel, security agencies, election monitoring groups, civil societies, logistics and ad-hoc staffs will be used for the elections…”

Bello has, however, denied bribing INEC to influence the electoral body on the conduct of Kogi West Senatorial re-run, as being alleged by the opposition.

The Governor, who spoke through his Director General Media and Publicity aide, Kingsley Fanwo, said he was too busy with his gubernatorial campaign and state matters to meddle in issues that had nothing to do with him.

The statement read: “Governor Yahaya Bello is the Executive Governor of Kogi State and not a sectional or Senatorial Governor. He can therefore not be discussing the conduct of a Senatorial election.

“At the moment, the Governor is busy with the guber election and most importantly, state matters now. He has little or no time to dabble into such issues.

“This is nothing but the usual foul cry by the most recently sacked election rigger senator, who is always afraid of standing for once as a ‘leader’ and face his destiny without whipping up rumours and sentiments to hoodwink the unsuspecting public.

“The people are tired of his childish sympathy hunt and stunts. Governors don’t print electoral materials for INEC. Losing election cases must have affected the former senator badly…”

The INEC Director on Voter Education and Public Information, Oluwole Izzi, said no official decision had been taken on the matter.