Anambra Tribunal Declares Senator Ekwunife Winner

EkwunifeSenator Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central Senatorial zone, has been declared winner of the March 28 Senatorial Election by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State.

Justice Naiyi Aganaba, who read the over 2-hour judgment held that the petitioners, Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and APGA failed to establish their case which they hinged on alleged mutilations and incorrect figures from which INEC declared Senator Ekwunife winner of the senatorial election.

The court also struck out the relief sought by Mr Umeh, urging the court to declare him winner on the grounds that he got the highest number of lawful votes cast.

Concluding the judgment, Justice Aganaba ruled that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt as to have the election nullified and insisted that it lacked merit.

Senator Uche Ekwunife, reacting to her victory, commended the judiciary for restoring hope, once again, to the common man and said that the judgment was a reflection of the wishes of the people.

Earlier, the tribunal had nullified the result of the PDP candidate for Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka Federal Constituency, Prince Emeka Eze and declared the APGA candidate, Mr Dozie Nwankwo, winner of the House of Representatives election.

Complaints Trail APGA National Assembly Primaries

APGAThe House of Representatives primary election have failed to hold for the second time in Awka North and South Federal Constituencies in Anambra State, following complaints of a fake delegate list smuggled into the venue to favour one of the aspirants out of the three in the election.

Reacting to the development, the incumbent member representing the constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeke Nwogbo, said that aside the mockery of democracy being made in the conduct of the primary election, a warrant of arrest had been placed on him by the Police for reasons not known to him.

In a similar development, another aspirant in the election, Mr. Uche Onyilofor, expressed dismay at the desperation of politicians during elections, maintaining that if the election had gone free and fair, it would have been in his favour.

The primary, however, was concluded with a sitting member of the State House of Assembly emerging the winner, winning with 104 votes.

In another development in Idemili North and South, the election was concluded around 9PM but it was very peaceful.

Despite being a lone aspirant in the Senate race for Anambra Central Senatorial District, over 400 delegates turned out at the venue in Awka for the primary election to vote for Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of APGA.

The delegates went through the process of accreditation and voting began immediately. Amongst the delegates was the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who urged the people to keep supporting the party that will cater for their future.

The National Chairman, having been declared the winner, also addressed the delegates, stressing his determination to entrench continued internal democracy in the party.

Presently, out of the eleven federal constituencies in the state, five still remained inconclusive while complaints and dissatisfaction trail the majority of the concluded ones.

However, many of the aggrieved aspirants have urged Governor Willie Obiano and the National Chairman of the party, Victor Umeh, to intervene and save the situation in the interest of the party.

Success Or Failure Of Election Depends On INEC Ad-Hoc Staff – Igini

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.

 

Anambra Guber: Jega Promises Better Election As Units Open

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, has promised a better voting exercise as polling units open for the accreditation of voters for a supplementary election which holds today, in parts of Anambra state.

He also promised that the wrong of the first poll which held on November 16 will be corrected this time around.

The election is being conducted in Idemili North and Onitsha south local government areas, where the exercise according to INEC was bungled on the 16th of November .

The Nigerian Police has also assured of its readiness to ensure a peaceful election as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, promised that the security arrangements made during the November the 16th poll are still in place.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye, who is covering the supplementary election in Idemili North reported reported that there is heavy presence of security by members of the army, police and State Security Service (SSS).

However, “the atmosphere is peaceful and calm,” he said.

He also reported ttraffic jam in some areas owing to the roadblocks put up by security agents but residents in the areas where election will hold have been moving around and going about their normal daily affairs.

INEC has also arranged for senior officers of the commission in other states to assist in today’s supplementary election.

The resident electoral commissioners in charge of Ondo and Ekiti states said that INEC is prepared to conduct a hitch free poll.

INEC Accredited Observers Back Supplementary Polls

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 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the  November 16 and 17 Anambra Governorship election inconclusive, stating that the total number of cancelled votes is more than the difference between highest scorer of votes and the runner up.

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.

 

Jega Should Be Commended For Owning Up – Obhafuoso

A legal practitioner, Robert Obhafuoso, has called on Nigerians to commend INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega for accepting responsibility for the lapses encountered at the Anambra governorship election, particularly in the case of the electoral officer who is under investigation for sabotaging the process in Idemili North.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Obhafuoso accused politicians of contributing to the furore which arose following the election which the Commission said was ‘inconclusive.’

Obhafuoso, who commended Jega and sympathaised with him, explained that elections at the National level had only been conducted four times in Nigeria and no election can be perfect, because humans are involved in the process.

He said that judging by former elections conducted in Ondo, Adamawa and Edo States, it was typical for politicians to criticise the Chairman of the electoral umpire, INEC, when the process seemed not to favour them.

According to him, the hullabaloo trailing the recent election is “a calculated attempt by politicians to get what they want by all means and at all costs.”

“As a matter of fact, we have to give kudos it to Jega, for accepting responsibility for the INEC official who was indicted in the case of corruption.

Obhafuoso also played down the magnitude of the issue of missing names in the register and said that the parties were to blame for not conducting a proper check on the updated register which was presented to them three days to the election.

He alleged that it was possible that those affected registered twice.

Anambra: Groups Reject Call For Poll Cancellation

Several individuals from the traditional institution in Anambra state as well as, political parties, youth organisations and some governorship candidates have rejected the call for the cancellation of the governorship election which was tagged ‘inconclusive’ by INEC.

Although the electoral umpire has said it would conduct a supplementary election in a bid to cover up lapses encountered in the first election, some groups as well as the PDP have called for the outright cancelation of the election.

They cited cases of financial inducement during the election and the non-conduct of the election in some wards in Idemili North as well as the issues of voters not finding their names in the register and as such were unable to cast their votes.

A former governor of Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who monitored the election highlighted both the good and the ugly side of the election and maintained that it would be senseless to cancel it.

From the traditional institution, the traditional rulers of Nteje (Rowland Odigbo) and Awka (Gibson Nwosu) stressed that the election was peaceful and saw no reason for the call for cancellation.

They said that those insisting on cancellation should seek redress in the appropriate quarters without disturbing the peace of the state.

Representatives of the Ohaneze and the Association of Town Union, Innocent Onwubuya, Chris Eluemuno and Chinelo Okechukwu condemned the idea in its entirety.

Members of the Coalition of accredited civil society group and state chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, said that there won’t be total cancellation of the election.

Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, a civil society group led by Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi expressed surprise at the sudden lack of boldness by INEC under the law to conduct the election.

He reminded INEC that it has no power to cancel the elections as only the Tribunal has such powers. He also warned that Anambra people will never participate in any fresh poll.