The judgement of the Supreme Court, upholding the election of Mr Willie Obiano as the Governor of Anambra State has triggered jubilation and excitement at the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia in Anambra State.
Songs of victory rent the air on Monday, as supporters gather to show support and felicitate with the governor over his victory at the court.
Governor Obiano was declared winner of the November 16 governorship election, that opposition parties said was marred by a number of irregularities.
At the banquet hall, it was entertainment for everybody as food and drinks flowed freely amidst merry making.
Members of the Executive Council amongst whom were the Secretary to the State Government, Oseloka Obaze and the Chief of Staff, Professor Joseph Asike, flanked the excited governor who addressed the press.
The governor stated that the victory was for everybody in the state which would strengthen his resolve to serve the people of the state better.
He extended a hand of fellowship to his opponents and called them to join hands to make Anambra the best as they all have no other home.
Through the court verdict, Governor Obiano defeated Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressive Congress, APC and Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who were asking the court to upturn Obiano’s victory, citing cases of multiple voters registration amongst other irregularities.
The Supreme Court in Nigeria has upheld the election of Mr Willie Obinano as the validly elected governor of Anambra State.
In three separate judgements delivered by a panel headed by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the apex court dismissed claims by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Chris Ngige and Mr Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he was not eligible to participate in the election on allegation of multiple registration.
The court held that Governor Obiano legally transferred his voters registration from Lagos to Anambra State when he relocated and as such the claims of the appellants cannot be sustained.
It dismissed the allegation of massive disenfranchisement of voters, stating that there is no law that says that the actual number of registered voters must vote, as voting is a voluntary exercise.
The election tribunal in Anambra State and the appeal court had in separate judgements dismissed the case of both Tony Nwoye of the PDP and Senator Chris Nigige of the APC.
The presiding judge in the Appeal Court hearing, Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, pronounced the judgment on all the appeals against the election of the governor, dismissing all for incompetence and lack of merit and awarded 50,000 Naira cost against the appellant, Chris Ngige.
The Anambra State governorship election was held on November 16, 2013, with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) ordering fresh elections in 65 polling units in Obosi ward of Idemili North Local Government Area.
The INEC had acknowledged that there were irregularities in the election, but said they were not enough to result in the cancellation of the election.
Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, the state’s capital, has dismissed all petitions against Willie Obiano, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and winner of the November 16 governorship polls in Anambra State.
The tribunal chairman, Justice Ishaq Bello upheld the Governor Willie Obiano election and dismissed the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressive Congress, APC and the factional candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Chike Obidigbo, as lacking merit and substance.
The Judge also discountenanced the allegations of double registration against Obiano for lack of evidence by the petitioners. Counsels to Willie Obiano and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, commended the judgment.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Victor Umeh, declared that APGA had been absolved of all factions and that the victory would determine the success the party would record in 2015.
Following the delivery, a train of APGA members and well-wishers stormed the government house where the governor, Willie Obiano, urged the jubilant crowd to celebrate peacefully as the victory was for the entire Anambra State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria says it will conduct a total overhaul of its staff in order to re-position it for the conduct of transparent, free and fair election in 2015.
At a four day retreat held in Kaduna on Tuesday organised for the Commission’s National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners, the head of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, said that the commission was looking forward to a likely amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act before the election.
He also ruled out electronic voting in 2015, as the system is prohibited by the country’s constitution.
Professor Jega explained that the overhaul was imperative to enable the commission maintained its integrity and earn the confidence of Nigerians in the forthcoming 2015 elections.
Deliberations at the retreat was centred on the theme; “Preparations, Plans and Challenges Towards 2015″.
The INEC chairman said that the need to review the existing Electoral Act was borne out of the desire to give the commission a legal frame work that would enable it conduct a better election in the future.
“The commission has sent its recommendation on the amendment to the National Assembly ahead of the 2015 polls,” he said.
Nigerians have witnessed several election irregularities since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, but Professor Jega said that the retreat would afford the commission the opportunity to further review some of the challenges it encountered in previous elections especially the recent governorship election in Anambra state that was marred with alleged irregularities.
The electoral commission accepted responsibility for the irregularities experienced in the Anambra governorship election, but said they were not enough to lead to a total conciliation of the election as demanded by some political parties.
The outcome of the Anambra election further created fear among the electorate on whether INEC would be able to handle a credible election as the nation moves into an election year in 2015.
With 11 months to the 2015 elections, the INEC boss is optimistic of conducting a free and fair poll.
He reminded the staff and other principal officers of the commission that all eyes were on them to deliver on their promises of giving Nigerians credible and transparent election in 2015.
Professor Jega urged them to work hard and requested that Nigerians should give the commission a benefit of doubt of conducting credible elections despite the shortcomings so far witnessed.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State, Mark Igini, on Monday said the success or failure of any election in the country as conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is largely dependent on the integrity of the ad-hoc staff the electoral umpire employs during elections.
He explained that INEC had about 12,000 staff and about 6,000 were directly involved in the election process. “During the last registration exercise, we deployed a total of 300,000 persons and for the election itself we deployed a total of 400,000 people (nationally),” Mr Igini said.
In light of the huge numbers of ad-hoc staff contracted for elections, “the success, outcome is largely in the hands of the other members of staff brought into the system for the conduct of election on that day. This is the practice everywhere,” he said.
On the integrity of the members of staff of INEC, he said the INEC chairman and those working with him had kept faith to their promise to ensure that the will of the people governs.
He expressed skepticism concerning reports of the Electoral Officer who compromised the election process in Anambra state at the governorship election which held in November 2013. “Compromising a process does not give only one meaning,” he said.
He also argued that it was not confirmed that the INEC officer compromised because there was a mix-up in election materials. “That mix-up, could it be deliberate? Was it a genuine mistake anybody could make? That’s a different thing all together,” he added.
He further said that reports of the compromise were opinions and not fact. “Information is better than opinion. You must get the facts first.”
Speaking on former elections held in the country as well as the preparedness of the electoral umpire to deliver in coming elections, Mr Igini, a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, stressed that there had been improvements in the past few years based on the decreasing number of election petitions.
“We must look at where we are coming from, look at where we are as we set concrete agenda for 2015,” he said.
According to Igini, the total number of petitions filed after elections in 2007 (which the National Democratic Institute (NDI), European Union and ECOWAS described as the lowest point of electoral discredit of our nation), were a total of 1721. (However), in 2011, after the election, in the entire country, the total number of petitions filed was just 724.
He complained that Anambra state had a history of high post-election petitions as the state recorded 145 election petition cases, the highest in the country in 2007. Also, in 2011, Anambra recorded 68 election petitions, also the highest number of cases in the country.
He stressed that elections are the collective responsibility of the people.
“All over the world, the outcome of election is a reflection of the commitment of the people (nation) to what they believe should be the ideal thing.
“Election day is a period to determine the commitments of all institutions, INEC and all other relevant stakeholders, particularly the political parties, politicians in getting the kind of election that the country deserved,” he added.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Anambra Governorship election Senator Chris Ngige has dragged the electoral commission to court over his dissatisfaction on the conduct of the poll.
Dr Ngige said that his party had instituted a preliminary suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), asking it to provide the party with the certified register used in the election
Other items he wants from INEC are the full list of the ad-hoc officials used in the election and the counterfoil used in the payment of the ad-hoc officials.
The APC candidate and his supporters boycotted the supplementary election that was held on November 30, insisting that the election was already flawed.
He had called for a total cancelation of the election citing cases of irregularities in the November 16 and 17 election before the supplementary.
Dr. Ngige, on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise, presented an alleged voters’ register showing minors registered for the election.
The electoral commission agreed that there were irregularities but insisted that they were not enough to cancel the election.
A spokesman of the Labour Party’s candidate in the Anambra governorship election, Mr. Ben Chuks-Nwosu, has alleged that a representative of a political party was seen giving money to voters to buy their votes.
Mr. Ben Chuks-Nwosu, who is the Director General of the Ifeanyi Ubah Campaign Organisation, decried the rising trend of ‘Money for Vote,’ caused by incredible poverty in most communities in Nigeria, as a danger to democracy.
“As much as 3,000 Naira and 5,000 Naira was given out to voters,” he said.
On Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, he said that the issues was reported to the police and the party representative, whose name was not mentioned, when accustomed, claimed he was ‘giving money to his cousins’.
Mr. Chuks-Nwosu said there was need to tackle poverty, which he stressed, had taken away the enthusiasm to vote from the electorates.
He also alleged that the governorship election was systematically rigged in the state.
“The systematic rigging happened mainly in three ways: Translocation of the voters’ register, voters not being able to find their names when they went out to vote and missing voters’ register at polling units,” he alleged.
Mr. Chuks-Nwosu said that the time between accreditation and voting time was a big loop hole for fraud.
“Within that time parties behave in ways that are unrecognised by the electoral act,” he said.
He also said that poor voters’ education led to poor turnout of voters in the election that saw only 20.4 per cent of total registered voters voting in the November 16 and 17 elections.
A supplementary election was held on November 30 and the All Progressives Grand Alliance’s candidate, Willie Obiano, was declared winner by the electoral commission.
The spokesman of Ifeanyi Ubah, the Labour Party’s candidate, explained that his party did not participate in the supplementary election because there was no statement by the electoral commission that it would correct the errors that were identified.
“INEC was still tinkering with the voter’s register three days to the day of the election, when they were supposed to have displayed the last register that they are supposed to use and this is fraught with danger. It is fraudulent and it is against the electoral act. It puts the contestants that were not favoured in a disadvantaged position.
“Voters register was tampered with in a way that is detrimental to my candidate and it is a justiciable campaign if we go to the tribunal.
“We will make our point and leave a window of negotiation. All we want is to make Anambra State great again,” he said.
Mr. Chuks-Nwosu said that the party members would meet to decide whether it would contest the result of the election in an election tribunal.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Anambra governorship election, Senator Chris Ngige, has dismissed the result of the election, alleging that the state government connived with the electoral commission to declare Mr. Willie Obiana of the All Progressives Grand Alliance winner.
The Director General of the Ngige Campaign Organisation, Mr. George Moghalu, told channels television in a telephone conversation that the result was a sign of desperation both on the part of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega and the government of Anambra State.
“What happened in Anambra State on November 16 was not an election. It was a sham. INEC should stop embarrassing us. We had expected that we have passed this stage but most unfortunately we are worse-off,” he said.
Mr. Moghalu said that the supplementary election, which his party did not take part in, was a conclusion of a set agenda.
“INEC is expected to create an enabling environment for democracy to thrive.
“Announcing Willie Obiano as governor elect should not come to anybody as a surprise because that is the agenda,” he stressed.
The National Chairman of APGA, Victor Umeh, dismissed the widely the APC candidate’s claim
In a press conference, Mr Umeh stated that the characteristic manner of the APC, in slamming damaging allegations against any winning team whenever they lose in any election had kept recurring.
He said the claims that APGA connived with INEC to rig the election was to disturb the peace of the state.
Mr. Umeh advised the APC to desist from politics of violence, propaganda and falsehood and nurse their failure while waiting for the next electoral dispensation.
The APC had called for a total cancelation of the November 16 election citing series of irregularities in the process.
INEC said that the irregularities witnessed in the process were not enough to cancel the election and scheduled a supplementary election for November 30.
The APC rejected the decision of the electoral commission and advised its supporters to boycott the supplementary election.
A group of Accredited Independent National Electoral Commission Observers in the Anambra governorship election have called on the electorate to come out en masse to exercise their right to vote at the supplementary elections scheduled to hold on Saturday.
The electoral umpire then announced that the supplementary election would hold on Saturday, November 30, 2013.
Although aggrieved parties in the Anambra governorship election have said that they would take no part in the supplementary election and have asked their supporters to boycott the supplementary election in some electoral wards in Idemili North and Onitsha South Local Government Areas, the group of accredited observers urged electorate to ensure exercise of their fundamental human right.
Speaking in an interactive forum with journalists in Awka ahead of the Saturday polls, the Director General of the Center for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness and the head of the group, Dr. Gabriel Nwambu, stated that supplementary election was not alien in the electoral process of the country as it had been done in Imo state in 2011.
He maintained that a supplementary election was the only medium that would pave way for the genuine declaration of the winner of the Anambra governorship polls as provided by the law.
The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the Anambra governorship election, Mr. Tony Nwoye, has insisted on his plan to boycott the supplementary election scheduled for November 30.
Insisting on shunning the election, the Campaign Organisation of Mr. Nwoye, denounced the announcement made by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, insisting that the Mr Nwoye will take part in the supplementary election scheduled for November 30.
Mr. Metuh had said that the Peoples Democratic Candidate, would take part in the election.
It is the second time since the November 16 election that the state chapter of the party is in disagreement with the leadership of the party over the election that Nwoye, the candidate of the All Progressives Alliance, Chris Ngige and Ifeanyi Uba of the Labour Party have rejected the results released so far by the electoral commission.
The three candidates have called for a total cancelation of the election and insisted that a fresh election should be conducted.
In a press conference, the Director of Protocol of Tony Nwoye Campaign Organisation, Mr. Ken Arinze, made it clear that the pronouncement of Mr. Metu was a personal thought and never represented the wishes of the candidate and of the party.
He said that the candidate would not participate in the supplementary election on the basis that the candidate’s name was not on the voters register.
“Being part of the supplementary poll is giving credibility to the election that lacked merit,” Mr. Arinze stressed.
Similarly, the Director General of Tony Nwoye Campaign Organisation, Victor Ezenwa, reminded Metu of the premise of his office as the party’s National Publicity Secretary and not Tony Nwoye’s.
Mr. Ezenwa urged Metu to refrain from imposing his mind on the party or the party’s candidate.
Candidates in the Anambra governorship election have alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered under aged voters who turned out en masse to vote for a participating candidate in the Anambra election.
The new revelations emerged from the leading candidates barely 24 hours after the INEC announced November 30 as date for the Anambra governorship supplementary elections.
Displaying documents which he claimed were printed from diskettes provided by the INEC, Labour Party Candidate, Ifeanyi Ubah, showed Channels Television a copy of the INEC voters’ register with faces of children.
He asked “why is APGA hesitating? Why won’t they want us to conduct a new election if really they know they have done well?”
Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chris Ngige said “APGA used minors to beef up voting strength in their stronghold. So the idea is that when they beef it up, instead of the actual number of voters (that are) resident in the area being like 2,000, they get 4,000.”
He alleged that this was achieved due to the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), which was done in the state prior to the election.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Umeh has however dismissed their claims, saying it is unfounded.
“The document they have was not certified by INEC and it cannot be coming from lawful custody… In this age of Information Technology where people use graphics to put all kinds of pictures in a document, I suspect that that was what they did.”
APGA Confident Ahead of Supplementary Poll
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APC, has insisted that their candidate for the Anambra governorship election, Willie Obiano will win any future election in the state.
Reacting to threats of a boycott of the supplementary election by other candidates as well as calls for the cancellation of the November 16 election, the National Secretary of APGA, Alhaji Sani Ahmed Shinkafi said that the party is fully on ground and will always come out victorious in the elections.
Alhaji Shinkafi added that the protesting candidates did not win enough votes to warrant any threat to the party’s supremacy in the state.
The Anambra governorship election has continued to generate more controversies with candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Chris Ngige, Labour Party, Ifenayi Uba and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr Victor Umeh, exchanging comments in grievance.
Part of the claims of the APC and the Labour Party (LP) are that many of their supporters were disenfranchised and that minors voted in the election that was declared inconclusive by the electoral commission, with a supplementary election scheduled for November 30.
On Channels Television’s Saturday morning programme, Sunrise, the two parties presented an alleged Voters’ Register that had the image of a minor voter marked, claiming that minors voted in the election, which had only 24.04 per cent of the registered voters participating.
Senator Ngige claimed that they were deceived by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and insisted on a total cancelation of the election.
Alleged Minor Voters
Senator Ngige expressed disappointment over the declaration by INEC and said that the decision to continue the election would “inflict more damage to the Anambra people and Nigerians”.
“I do not understand what he is saying. We are shocked that he said the electoral commission will conduct a supplementary election in Anambra State. Supplementary election with fraud voters’ register which is the foundation of any election?” he questioned.
The Senator alleged that areas where he recorded high votes in the Senatorial election were disenfranchised.
He tendered a copy of the alleged voter’s register and insisted that minors were allowed to vote in the incumbent governor’s local council to push up the number of votes.
The Labour Party’s candidate, Ifeanyi Ubah, cited the Electoral Act and pointed out that the electoral body violated the provisions of the Act.
“The section 20 of the Act says that voters’ register must be placed 30 days before the election and not 3 days,” he said.
Mr. Ubah also insisted that minors voted in the election.
“With all the atrocities in the register, I consider the result sheet invalid,” he stated.
Mr. Umeh, of APGA, the party leading in the election based on results released so far, described their claims as ‘losers’ statements’.
He pointed out that the register that the APC and LP candidates were tendering was apparently the one used in 2011 election.
“There is nothing indicating that the register is from INEC. There were minors that registered in 2011 before INEC used affix to remove under-aged people from the voters’ register.
“I did not see a minor in the polling booth I voted on the election day.
“If you have any case with the register, the place to use it is at the Election Tribunal,” he stressed.
He alleged that the images were superimposed on the document tendered by the oppositions.
A spokesman of the electoral body, Mr. Kayode Idowu, upheld the commission’s earlier statements, insisting that the voter’s register given to the political parties three days to the election was the same with that issued about 30 days earlier.
Mr. Kayode explained that in 2011, communities forced polling officials to register minors in the State.
“Communities conspired to do this and the issue of minors is a collective responsibility. We should dis-aggregate the issues that we are raising and look at who is responsible for what in this matter,” he stated.
The session was called off as heated arguments arose, as the guests could no longer control their temper.
However, it was a different scene outside the studios, as Ifeanyi Uba and Victor Umeh were seen exchanging pleasantries, confirming the saying that in politics, there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends.
Lawyers have said that the electoral body lacked legal backing to cancel an election after it had declared its results.
To this end, the commission’s chairman Attahiru Jega, had on Friday told a press conference that a supplementary election would hold on November 30.