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Tempers rise as INEC gets set for makeup elections




Tempers rose yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reversed itself on the stalled governorship election in Bauchi State.

It said the supplementary election, which it cancelled last week, will hold on Saturday in areas not affected by yesterday’s court ruling.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the electoral umpire to pull the brakes on its planned resumption of collation of results for Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has been pushing for the collation and declaration of the results, rejected the decision.

Besides Bauchi, supplementary elections are holding also in Benue, Adamawa, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states.

Amid the anxiety in Kano State, Governor Umar Ganduje warned against any breach of the peace.

His warning came as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) advised security agents and residents to hold former Governor Musa Kwanwaso responsible for any violence.

The police in Sokoto were warning criminals to stay away.


In Benue, the APC and the PDP renewed their war of words over the supplementary polls.

INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the Commission, will work towards the expeditious resolution of the collation in the local government.

He said: “The commission has complied with the order of the Federal High Court Abuja. The Commission has suspended the collation of the governorship election result for Tafawa Balewa Local Government.

“The commission will proceed and complete the Collation of the result of the State Assembly Election for Tafawa Balewa Local Government and make a return.

“The Commission will proceed with supplementary elections on Saturday in relation to areas that are not affected by the court order.

“The commission has a history of obedience to court orders. The commission will continue to comply with court orders and will take steps to vacate orders where it feels strongly that the court that gave the order has no jurisdiction.

“The Commission will work towards the expeditious resolution of the collation process in Tafawa Balewa Local Government.”

In a bench ruling yesterday, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo ordered parties in a suit by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the incumbent Governor Muhammed Abubakar to maintain the status quo.

The judge ordered “that parties shall maintain status quo ante, pending the determination of the substantive matter of this case”.

The judge adjourned the hearing till today.

Justice Ekwo judge gave the order following INEC’s failure to comply with the earlier order he made on Monday for it to appear yesterday and show cause why the reliefs being sought by the plaintiffs in their motion ex-parte should not be granted.

The APC and Abubakar had, in their motion ex-parte, prayed the court for two main reliefs:
An order of interim injunction restraining the defendant/respondent whether by Itself or acting through its agents, privies or any person on its behalf, howsoever described, from resuming, concluding and/or announcing the collation of the results of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchl State in respect of election to the office of the Governor of Bauchl State held on 9th” March, 2019, pending the hearing and determination of the the plaintiff/applicant’s motion on notice.
An order of accelerated hearing and abridgement of time to two days within which the defendant/respondent is to enter appearance and file its response in defence of the suit.

Rather than granting the reliefs ex-parte, the court, on Monday, ordered INEC, listed as the sole defendant in the suit, to show cause why the plaintiffs’ reliefs should not be granted.

The judge said: “The defendant is hereby ordered to appear in court on 19th March 2019 to show cause why the orders prayed on the motion ex-parte ought not to be granted.”


When parties got to the court yesterday, INEC, represented by Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), told the court that the electoral body had filed a counter-affidavit to the plaintiffs’ originating summons.

He also made an oral application, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the motion filed by the ruling party and its candidate, which, he argued, could only be entertained by an election tribunal.

Raji objected to Inuwa’s position, insisting that INEC was yet to comply with the court’s order for it to show cause why the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.

The Judge upheld Raji’s contention that INEC was yet to comply with the court’s order for it to show why the chiefs should not be granted.

He said while INEC could not challenge the court’s jurisdiction by oral application, the counter-affidavit did not qualify as an affidavit showing cause.

Justice Ekwo consequently ordered the parties to maintain the status quo (as things were) before the court’s proceedings and adjourned till tomorrow for the hearing.

INEC, in its counter-affidavit, deposed to by Hassan Adamu, an officer of INEC, queried the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case brought by APC and Abubakar.

It stated that contrary to paragraph 22 of the affidavit in support of originating summons, “I state that the decision by the defendant to conclude collation for Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State was made based on the figures contained in the duplicates of results of the election”.

“Contrary to paragraph 29 of the affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that: Only Election Petition Tribunal has the jurisdiction to review the decision of the commission.

“The decision of the Returning Officer referred to is in respect of declaration of scores and return of candidate, which is the exclusive preserve of the Election Petition Tribunal.

“The defendant having rescinded its earlier decision based on facts that emerged later and made a return, any grievance arising therefrom now rests with the Election Petition Tribunal.

“The availability of polling units’ results made the defendant to rescind its decision to conduct supplementary election.

“Contrary to paragraph 30 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that the plaintiffs’ right to fair election (if any) will not be affected in any way.


“Contrary to paragraph 31 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that none of the voting populace of Bauchi State will be disenfranchised, elections having been concluded.

“Contrary to paragraph 32 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that the instant action is targeted at stopping the performance of a constitutional duty.

“Contrary to paragraph 33 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that the plaintiffs do not have any threatened right capable of being protected.

“Contrary to paragraph 34 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that the issues raised in this application are not triable by this honourable comt, same bordering on return at an election.

“Contrary to paragraph 35 of affidavit in support of originating summons, I state that all eligible voters have cast their votes, leading to a return and once that is the case, this honourable court is divested of the jurisdiction to entertain this case.”

KANO

Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje yesterday warned that his government would not tolerate any breach of the peace under whatever guise.

He said the state government would not fold its arms and watch “some desperate politicians instigate instability” and plunge the state into crisis.

“As governor of Kano State and the Chief Security Officer of the state, I cannot sleep if any drop of blood is wasted. Brandishing of harmful objects is also abhorred by my administration,” Ganduje said.

He made the assertions when an amalgamation of over 300 associations, under the platform of Kano Peace Ambassadors, visited him, assuring him of their resolve to promote peaceful coexistence before, during and after next Saturday’s supplementary governorship election.

The groups marched from the Emir’s Palace through the streets to the Government House, where the governor received them.

A letter was given to Ganduje, explaining their resolve to always see that peace thrives in the state.

The Kano State chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), led by Kabiru Ado Lakwaya and the National Association of Kano State Students Association (NAKSS) led its National President Aliyu Maikasuwa Rano, were among the organisations that visited the Government House.

Ganduje said he was not speaking as a candidate, but as the governor of Kano State and the chief security officer of the state, that “anybody wishing to disrupt the peace and stability of the state will not go scot-free. Kano is a very peaceful state and must remain peaceful.”

He told his audience the peace accord he and other candidates in the state signed before the presidential and National Assembly elections, was still in force.

A similar accord was signed, according to him, before the governorship and state assembly elections.

He said: “After the signing of the Accord, I invited all the contestants for a group photograph, which they all joined at the venue of the signing event.

“After the signing ceremony, I also invited all of them to the Government House for a special dinner. All the contestants were there with the exception of only one. I am just trying to prove to you how peaceful our government is”

Abubakar Muhammad Janaral, who co-led the groups, commended Ganduje for making statements that promote peaceful co-existent.

Janaral said: “Your Excellency, we are monitoring speeches that are being made by political leaders in the state, we found out that, many out there are only triggers to instability.

“We are indeed commending your political statements that prove to be in line with peaceful engagements. Anyone you see here, Your Excellency, is a Peace Ambassador.

“Sir, as the chief security officer, we urge you to continue promoting peace and stability in the state. And we are living witnesses that your speeches then and now are all drivers to peace and stability.”

Also yesterday, the ruling APC urged security agencies and Kano residents to hold Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso responsible should there be any breach of the peace before, during and after the March 23 supplementary governorship poll in the state.

In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Youth & Culture, Malam Muhammad Garba, the APC leadership in Kano expressed worry over inciting comments credited to the former governor.

Garba, who doubles as the Chairman, Publicity Committee, Kano APC Campaign Organisation, wondered why the senator has not been called to order by security agencies in the state, particularly, the police.

SOKOTO

The Sokoto State Police Command yesterday warned potential crime perpetrators to steer clear during and after the supplementary election in the state.

Commissioner of Police Aminu Koji Kwabe said the command would not tolerate any breach of the law, especially in the 136 polling units across 22 local government areas, where the extra poll will be conducted.

The police commissioner spoke while parading no fewer than 12 suspected criminals apprehended in possession of dangerous weapons and hard drugs.

The criminal hideout raided by the police included: Gidan Igwai; Old Garage; Central Moto Park; Gangare Gidan Dankure and Mana Area – all within the Sokoto metropolis.

Also recovered from the suspects were 140 wraps of Indian hemp; 549 pieces of hard drugs, including pieces of exol and six sachets of Diazepom, among others.

Kwabe, represented by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Abubakar Sadeeq, said the command will not relent on its effort to rid the state of criminals.

He urged drug abusers, thugs and other potential criminals to change their ways as the police would neither tolerate, nor relent their efforts in combating crime and criminals planning to foment trouble during the rescheduled election.

Kwabe urged the maintenance of peace during the process and after the announcement of the results, warning that the police in the state would not allow the collapse of law and order in the state.

“Law and order must be maintained in Sokoto. The command will not hesitate to deal with any one tempting its strength by causing mayhem during and after the elections. We will also ensure we bring perpetrators of violence to book to face justice”, he said.

BENUE

The Benue chapters of the APC and PDP engaged in muscle-flexing yesterday.

Both parties are confident of winning the supplementary election billed for Saturday.

Sam Ode, who is the running mate to the APC governorship candidate, said the electorate would on Saturday cast their ballot for his party’s flagbearer, Emmanuel Jime.

He said the people were desirous for a change to better their living conditions.

Speaking in an telephone chat with The Nation, Ode, a former Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, maintained that for civil servants and pensioners to enjoy their benefits on regular basis, the PDP government must be voted out on Saturday.

He stated: “Just like the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has been paying federal workers promptly, the APC in Benue will give priority to welfare of workers and pensioners who are senior citizens of the state.

“It takes wisdom for any Benue governor to know that the economy of the state revolved around public workers’ salaries and the APC had already put in measures to give adequate attention to Benue workers and called on voters to come out and vote APC on Saturday.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties, Abraham Kwaghngu told our correspondent that Benue people were already at home with Governor Samuel Ortom and would vote him again in the rescheduled election.

He noted that never in the history of the state has a governor staked his neck for the people and defended them as done by Ortom.

Kwaghngu said: “The good thing about Benue supplementary election is Governor Ortom is ahead of his opponent with 81,000 votes wide margin and no magic would save the APC.”

He called on PDP supporters to turn out and vote Ortom once and for all so that he can settle down to business.

Kwaghngu noted: “All the polling units in contention are PDP strongholds and therefore, there is nothing to worry about.”

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