…As Court restrains INEC from conducting re-run in Adamawa
…You lack jurisdiction, INEC replies
Mathew Dadiya & Andrew Orolua, Abuja
Gripped by fear of losing their seats in the inconclusive elections, two sitting governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) – Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa State and Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State have stormed the Presidential Villa to seek the intervention of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on their predicaments.
The moves was seen as a last minute attempt to salvage what others described as a bad situation. Although their mission to the Presidential Villa on Thursday, was not stated, they met with Vice President Osinbajo behind closed doors separately.
Sources within the presidency, however, disclosed that both governors may have visited the Vice President, apparently to lobby him and ensure he intervenes in the supplementary gubernatorial elections, slated for March 23 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Their fears, the source said, stems from the fact that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be having upper hand in those states.
They refused to state their mission to the villa when State House correspondents sought to speak to them.
The two governors are seeking second tenure on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
But, the governorship results of the March 9th elections in the two states were declared inconclusive, including that of Kano, Sokoto, Rivers and Benue.
In the case of Bauchi State, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, the Returning Officer, had stated that apart from the cancellation of the result from the entire Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, there were irregularities as the exercise in some other polling units also suffered the same fate.
Kyari had stated that “the margin between the winner and opponent is less than the total number of votes cancelled in some polling units. By law, since the margin of winner is less than the total number of votes cancelled and registered voters in the areas where the votes have been cancelled, this election is hereby declared inconclusive”.
He said the decision fell in line with section 26 part 53 of the Electoral Act.
While announcing the votes garnered by the two contending parties before declaring the outcome inconclusive, the Returning Officer had given the scores of incumbent governor, Mohammed Abubakar of APC, as 465,453 votes and that of Bala Mohammed of PDP as 469,512 votes.
Kyari had also stated that the INEC would conduct re-run election within 21 days in the affected local government area and polling units which results had been cancelled before the final announcement of the winner.
The Daily Times recalls that the opposition candidates in the PDP were leading in five states, which include Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, and Benue.
Although INEC has fixed March 23 for supplementary elections in the affected states, some of the APC governors held a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, obviously on similar agenda.
A source privy to the meeting, who craved anonymity, had stated that the President was not favourably disposed to their request for intervention, especially as he had vowed to leave a legacy of free, fair and credible polls.
Among the initial governors that thronged the State House, Abuja, to lobby the President, shortly after he returned from Daura, Kastina State, where he had gone to exercise his franchise the previous week, were Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Muhammad Badaru, (Jigawa), and Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State.
Abdulaziz Yari, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Zamfara State, was said to have led the governors to the meeting with the President reportedly in a last-ditch effort to assist the party clinch victory in states almost eluding it.
Meanwhile, an Adamawa State High Court sitting in Yola, the state capital, on Thursday, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting a supplementary Governorship Election in Adamawa State, fixed for March 23.
The interim restraining order issued by Justice Abdul-Aziz Waziri, followed an application filed by counsel to the Adamawa State chapter of the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Mr. Mustafa Shaba, who is challenging the omission of the party logo on the ballot paper.
Ruling on the application, Justice Waziri said that after going through the two affidavits in support of the motion and the application of extreme urgency, he believed that the request has merit and therefore granted.
“After careful perusal of the a annexture of the MRDD 1 to 5 alongside written address of counsel urging me to grant the application, I am of the view that the application is pregnant with merit and must be granted.
“I hereby grant the application and make the following order. The defendant herein, the INEC is hereby restrained whether by themselves, their executives, servants, privies, representative nominees or any other person or persons from proceeding with the supplementary election in respect of Adamawa State Governorship pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.”
Justice Waziri further ordered that all the processes relating to the suit be served on Adamawa State INEC office in Yola in compliance with Order 6 of the Court.
He adjourned the case to March 21 for hearing of motion for the interlocutory injunction.
Speaking to newsmen on the development, counsel to MRDD, Mr. Mustafa Shaba said the plaintiff, MRDD represented by the state chairman of the party, Ibrahim Umar, rushed to the court to complain against what he described as “serious infraction.
“The party has come to court and fortunately the election has not been concluded to stop INEC from further breaching of the party’s candidate (Rev. Eric Theman) right.
“We want the logo to be placed and the election to start afresh. What we applied for today (Thursday) is for Interim injunction restraining INEC as it is for now from proceeding with the inconclusive election until the needful is done,” Shaba said.
But when contacted by reporters, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Kashim Gaidam, said the court lacked jurisdiction over the federal establishment, describing it as possible undue influence.
He said that “it is an order of a state High Court which has no jurisdiction over federal establishments. It is very surprising indeed. Could it be undue influence? Section 87 (10) of electoral law is also relevant. I am sure the commission will issue an official statement on the matter.”
After the first round of election on February 9, 2019 , the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hamadu Fintiri, established a lead margin of 32 , 476 votes over the All Progressives Congress candidate, Jibrilla Bindow, who is seeking a second term in office.
In declaring the election inconclusive, INEC said the margin was lower than 40, 998 votes that were declared invalid.