Tension as INEC concludes 2019 polls today

THERE is tension in some states of the country as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,concludes the 2019 general polls today in 28 constituencies.

The tension is on account of the violence and high-wire rigging that characterised a host of recent elections especially Kogi governorship election where a woman leader of the peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was locked up in her house and burnt with the building.

Arising from the 2019 General Election, 807 post-election petitions were filed at the tribunals. Out of this figure, 582 were dismissed, 183 were withdrawn by the petitioners, 30 are for re-run election and 13 for issuance of certificates of return. This means that the Commission is required by order of the tribunals to conduct re-run elections in 30 constituencies across 12 states of the Federation involving two senatorial districts out of 109, 13 federal constituencies out of 360 and 15 state constituencies out of 991. Two of the court-ordered elections have been held leaving 28.

The elections will determine the fate of Senator Chris Ekpenyong (Akwa Ibom), Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Kano), and Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (Kano) among others.

Summary of the 28 polls

According to the INEC, the re-run and supplementary polls will be held in 11 of the country’s 36 states, one of the 109 senatorial zones, 12 federal constituencies and 15 state constituencies.

There will be supplementary polls in some parts of 22 constituencies while the elections will be repeated in all parts of six constituencies.

Affected states

* Abia – Two elections (supplementary polls in Arochukwu and Aba South state constituencies).

* Akwa Ibom – Two elections (supplementary Senatorial and state constituency polls in Essien Udim Local council.)

* Bauchi – Two elections (whole election in Gamawa federal constituency and supplementary poll in Zarki federal constituency).

* Benue – One election (supplementary poll in Ohimini state constituency).

* Cross River – Two elections (Abi/Yakurr Federal constituency and Abi State Constituency supplementary polls).

 Imo – Three polls (Repeat poll in Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo Federal Constituency; supplementary polls in Njaba state constituency, and Orlu/Orsu/Oru Federal Constituency).

* Kaduna – Two supplementary polls in Sanga and Kargako state constituencies.

* Kano – Seven polls will be conducted. There will be repeat polls in Bebeji/Kiru, and Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituencies; supplementary polls in Kumbotso Federal Constituency; as well as four state constituencies of Bunkure, Rogo, Madobi and Minjibir.

* Niger – One repeat election will be held in Agwara State Constituency.

 Ogun – A supplementary poll will be held in Ijebu Ode/Odogbolu/Ijebu North-East Federal Constituency

* Sokoto – Four polls (a repeat election in Sokoto North/South Federal Constituency; supplementary polls in Sokoto North II, and Binji state Constituencies; and Isa/Sabo Birni Federal Constituency).

Among the 28 constituencies, the supplementary election in Essien Udim Local Council of Akwa Ibom to determine the winner of Akwa Ibom North-East senatorial seat is raising dust. Senator Christopher Ekpenyong of the PDP is heading into the supplementary election with a large margin over Senator Godswill Akpabio, current minister of Niger Delta Affairs, ran on the plank of the APC. Senator Chris Ekpenyong was returned as winner of the 2019 election by the INEC, a decision Akpabio kicked against leading to the court of appeal ruling ordering repeat poll in Essien Udim, one of the 10 LGAs of the zone to determine the winner. Currently, Ekpenyong has 114,973 votes from the remaining nine LGAs while Akpabio has 76,917 votes. There are 95,987 voters with permanent voters cards, PVCs, in Essien Udim LGA, where Akpabio hails from.

Depending on voters turnout, Akpabio has the chance of cancelling out Ekpenyong’s 38,056 voters lead and winning the overall election.

However, Akpabio has distanced himself from the supplementary and said he is supporting Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo, whom the APC nominated as his replacement. The INEC has insisted that Akpabio remains on the ballot because the period allowed for substitution and replacement of candidates had lapsed.

Although the electoral umpire and security agencies have promised to ensure credible polls today,

the PDP, has alleged plot by the APC to manipulate the poll in Essien Udim local council.

The party claimed to have intelligence on how “a serving minister on President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet allegedly compromised a Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, to deploy policemen to invade the local government, unleash violence and manipulate the electoral process in favour of the APC.

In a statement by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP claimed that “the said DIG promised the minister that with proper funding, he will do the same thing that was done in Bayelsa in favour of the APC during the November 17, 2019 governorship election.”

The statement read: “As part of the strategy, the DIG reportedly promised to deploy a more senior police commissioner than the one in Akwa Ibom State to take charge of the command of policemen posted for the election in the local government area and that when that senior police commissioner comes, even the State Police Commissioner will be under his command.’’

Eyes are also on Imo where Senator Hope Uzodinma, who became governor of Imo State via the Supreme Court’s ruling, last week, is seeking to boost the electoral laurels of the APC in the three polls that will be held in Imo.

The APC held a mega rally in the primary school at Anara junction in Isiala Mbano local government area of Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo Federal Constituency where the election will be repeated.

Members of the APC, both national and state members, Governor Hope Uzodinma, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, and the APC National Organizing Secretary, Emma Ibediro and APC – recognized Imo State Chairman, Marcelenius Nlemigbo among others were at the rally.

The police and other security agencies have vowed to provide adequate security before during and after the rerun elections.

The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Fafowora, through the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu, said: “The Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Fafowora, in conjunction with all security agencies held a meeting with INEC REC, candidates, political parties and stakeholders and assured of security agencies’ readiness to provide security to all stakeholders. The INEC REC, Professor Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu, also promised to be neutral and conduct the election in line with international best practices.

Similar promises were also been made in other states.

It is to be seen if the 28 polls will be free and fair or go the way of some past controversial elections.

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