…Says litigation, consequential order only affect collation of results for gov’ship poll in one Bauchi LGA
Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja & Tom Garba, Yola
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the supplementary governorship elections earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi and Adamawa states will still hold, even though the issue has become a subject of litigation.
Taking to its verified Twitter handle @inecnigeria on Thursday, INEC said an interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the Commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
While the Commission has complied in accordance with its policy to obey all court orders in deference to the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action,” INEC said.
According to the electoral umpire, the litigation and consequential order only affect the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in Bauchi State.
“Consequently, the supplementary elections will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, 23 March in the other 15 Local Government Areas of Bauchi State as well as the Kirfi State Constituency Supplementary Election in Kirfi Local Government Area,” the Commission said.
Similarly, INEC said the Adamawa State High Court had issued an injunction restraining the Commission from proceeding with the supplementary election following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy, a registered political party which did not take part in the main election.
It said that though the Commission had also complied with the order, it has also taken steps to vacate it and dismiss the action.
“Notwithstanding the legal action over the Supplementary Governorship election, elections will hold in Nassarawo/Binyeri State Constituency in Mayo–Belwa Local Government Area where the election had to be countermanded following the death of a candidate before the polls, as well as the supplementary State Constituency election and Uba/Gaya State Constituency in Hong Local Government Area,” INEC said.
The litigation on the Bauchi governorship election, INEC said, was initiated by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Mohammed Abubakar.
A state High Court sitting in Yola had ordered the indefinite suspension of the governorship supplementary election slated to hold in Adamawa state on Saturday.
The presiding judge, Justice Abdul-azeez Waziri, who issued the order on Thursday, held that the polls should be put on hold pending when he will deliver ruling on an application for interlocutory injunction barring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the polls.
The judge then adjourned the matter to Tuesday to give the ruling.
A political party, the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD) and its supposed candidate, Eric Theman, had asked the court to cancel the election on the grounds that the party’s logo was not on the ballot paper.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed March 25 to deliver judgment on a suit seeking to stop INEC from resuming collation or announcing result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after counsel in the matter adopted their written addresses on Thursday.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, dragged INEC to court over the Bauchi elections.
They are challenging the commission’s decision to resume collation, conclude and announce results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in respect of the election to the office of governor of Bauchi State.
The APC and Abubakar asked the court for a declaration that INEC, having led them to believe that there would be a supplementary election, could not go back and continue with collation of ballots that a Returning Officer had termed rejected.
They maintained that the powers of the returning officer, having declared the election inconclusive, could only be upturned by a court and not by INEC.
Addressing the court, counsel to the APC and Abubakar, Mr. Ahmed Raji, (SAN), submitted that INEC was wrong to have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter and referred them to an Election Petition Tribunal.
According to Raji, the only instance where an election petition tribunal was conferred with jurisdiction to hear such a matter was where a winner was announced.
“Under Section 282 of the 1999 Constitution, where a petition is filed and a return has not been made, the petition is incompetent. Once a return has not been made, the election petition tribunal does not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter, so there is no law to support their submission that we should have gone to the tribunal,” Raji stated.