PDP asks INEC to review declarations in Ogun governorship election
Probe Adebutu, PDP’s Electoral Infractions, Group Tasks Security Agencies
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to urgently review its declaration in the just concluded Ogun State Governorship election.
The party, at a press conference presided over by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, yesterday, said it has reviewed the conduct of the Saturday, March 18, 2023 Governorship election in the state and observed with concern that the result as declared by INEC is completely at variance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Guidelines it issued for the conduct of the election.
“Specifically, from the summary of collated results at the governorship election, it is evident that our candidate was in 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 winner, in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022,” the opposition party said.
The party drew the attention of INEC to the fact that with the cancelled votes, the margin of lead between Abiodun and its Governorship Candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, is not in excess of 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 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,” the PDP disclosed.
It stated that, “In such circumstance, Section 24 (3) (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 expressly mandate INEC to appoint a new date for the conduct of the polls in the Polling Units where election did not hold or cancelled before any return can be made.”
Section 24. (3) reads: “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 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 in accordance with subsections (2) and (3), there shall be no return for the election until polling has taken place in the area or areas affected.”
The PDP believed that “the hurried declaration of the APC candidate by the INEC Returning Officer as winner is a declaration made contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, Regulations and Guidelines stipulated by INEC for the election.
“In 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.”
The PDP cautioned INEC to save the state an imminent breakdown of law and order by reviewing the declaration and return made. However, a group, Ogun Integrity Vanguard, has tasked the leadership of security agencies in the country, particularly the Nigeria Police Force, to ensure comprehensive probe of the electoral infractions allegedly perpetrated by PDP and its governorship candidate – Adebutu, during the March 18 poll.
The group made the call in a statement signed by its secretary, Duro Thomas, in Abeokuta. Making reference to the incidents that happened during the polls, the group noted that PDP agents were arrested in the Agbado area of the state by Agbado Police officers with cash, more than 300 PVCs and Verve prepaid ATM cards, pointing out that the action was a clear contravention of the Electoral Act.
It said: “It was not only the police that arrested agents of the PDP and other parties carrying out such devious acts.
“As amply documented by the spokesman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Femi Babafemi, operatives of the agency on election stop and search duty, intercepted four party agents with hundreds of money credit cards meant to buy votes at Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta.
“Each card contained N10, 000 and was meant to be activated with a code. The suspects, who were PDP agents, were subsequently handed over to the police. It is clear that Adebutu’s bloated image is underpinned by corrupt tendencies.
“If we want this election to be a litmus test for future elections where Nigerians say no to manipulation and corruption of the electoral space, there is a need for the police to not only investigate but to also invite the PDP governorship candidate to explain why he carried out such infractions.”