There are indications that the Independent National Electoral Commission has been plunged into confusion, following the constitutional logjam created by the death of Abubakar Audu of the All Progressives Congress, who was on the verge of winning Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State.
The election was however declared inconclusive following cancellation of elections in 91 polling units.
According to results so far declared by the Returning Officer, Emmanuel Kucha, Mr. Audu of the All Progressives Congress scored 240,867, while Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 199,514 votes.
A top official of the electoral agency told Premium Times on Monday that his commission was in a ‘deep state state of confusion’.
I can tell you that everyone is confused,” the official said, asking not to be named because he had no authority to make that disclosure to the media.
We don’t know how to proceed at this point. We have been consulting extensively, but we have been unable to reach any conclusion.
Several meetings have been held here but no conclusion has been reached.
When contacted, the commission’s Director of Voters’ Education and Publicity, Ozaze Uzzi, confirmed that the commission was yet to reach any position regarding the election.
He said consultations were still ongoing and the commission would hold some meetings to reach a decision.
“We should be able to say something between 24 and 48 hours,” Mr. Uzzi said.
The returning officer at the election, Mr. Kucha, had, citing INEC guideline, declared the election inconclusive, saying the margin of votes scored between Messrs Audu and Wada was less than the number of registered voters in 91 polling units were elections were either cancelled or did not hold.
Mr. Audu had 41,353 votes more than Mr. Wada, while the total number of registered voters in the affected polling units is 49,953.
Nigerian law did not provide for the kind of political logjam that has developed in Kogi, where a governorship candidate died before conclusion of the election.
Legal experts have expressed divergent opinions on the matter.
Lagos-based constitutional lawyers, Jiti Ogunye and Festus Keyamo said Mr. Audu’s running mate, James Faleke, should automatically be made the APC’s governorship candidate while the supplementary election in the affected 91 units continues.
On the hand, Muideen Olagunju, a lawyer, holds different opinion, asking the Attorney General of the Federation to approach the Supreme Court to determine the way out.
He argued that Mr. Faleke could not automatically continue with the election as the governorship candidate since there was no provision in the constitution to that effect.