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PDP again demands suspension of Bauchi re-run

…As INEC reels out election details, sets timeline for Rivers re-run

Tunde Opalana, Abuja

Barely 48 hours to Saturday’s supplementary elections in five states, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has once again asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the election in Bauchi State.

The party in a letter addressed to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, dated March 21 and received at the commission, requested for the suspension of supplementary election in Bauchi State.

In the letter signed by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and National Secretary, Sen. Ibrahim Umaru Tsauri, the PDP noted that rerun or supplementary can only be ripe and determined upon conclusion of Collation of all the results from the 20 local government areas and the margin between the winner and the runner up is known.

The party wrote “this is the position of the law as provided in the regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections, specifically paragraph 33(a) &(e), 34(e).

“By the combined effect of Paragraph 33 (a), (e) and 34 (e) of the guidelines, the Commission shall wait to determine the margin of lead between the two leading candidates for the Governorship Elections after Collation of the overall results of the election before deciding to embark on Supplementary election.

“Therefore, in this present situation, in Bauchi where one Local Government Area election result has not been collated I.e Tafawa Balewa, the Commission cannot determine the lead between the candidates. Hence, there is no basis for supplementary elections at the polling units cancelled pursuant to Section 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act.

“We therefore demand for immediate suspension of the supplementary election scheduled for 23rd March, 2019 until Collation of results from Tafawa Balewa has been conclusively carried out”.

The Commission also on Thursday released details of Saturday’s rerun election in Bauchi State.

National Commissioner and Chairman, INEC Committee on Information and Voter Education, Barr. Festus Okoye, reeled out timetable of rescheduled elections while addressing the media at the Commission’s headquarters, Abuja on Thursday.

In Bauchi State, a total number of 22,759 registered voters will vote in 29 registration areas and wards which include 36 polling units in 15 affected local government areas.

INEC said election will not hold in Tafawa Balewa local government, pending the decision of the Court.

The commissioner said the court order received by the commission only affects governorship collation of Tafawa Balewa local government area, adding that the commission has concluded arrangements to conduct elections in other areas where elections were either canceled or not held at all.

Okoye, however, said while INEC complied with the court order, it has taken cogent step to vacate the order.

He added that INEC also complied with Court order on Adamawa rerun but will take step as well to vacate the order.

The Commission refuted report that INEC has moved the Collation Centre for Bauchi polls to a military formation in the state.

Okoye said as the commissioner in-charge of Bauchi State, he has no information of such relocation but acknowledged that such could happen if stakeholders concerned agreed on such relocation if need be.

The commission also sets timeline for conclusion of Rivers elections.

Okoye said that collation of election results in Rivers State will resume on April 2 and will be concluded with an announcement on April 5.

The Commission suspended Collation of results after winners had been declared in 21 state constituencies.

He said subsequent supplementary elections that may necessarily come out of the declared results will hold on April 13 while results of supplementary polls will be declared latest April 15.

The commissioner added that Certificates of Return Certificate will be issued to all categories of winners on April 19.

He said the position of the Commission on Imo West Senatorial District has not changed and that INEC will not issue Certificate of Returns to Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha.

He declined further comments on the Imo debacle because the matter is now a subject of litigation.

“We will allow judicial process to run its course and if at the end the court ask us to issue him certificate, we will of course comply”, he said.