Kogi State election cannot stand- Igala Group
By Emmanuel Kwada
The Uk’Omu Igala Organization, one of the foremost socio-cultural groups in Kogi East Senatorial District, has tagged as fraudulent, the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Kogi State in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr Usman Ododo as winner.
In a statement on Thursday, signed by its National Leader, Elder David Abutu, and its National Secretary, Dr Sabestine Abuh, the organization decried the roles played by INEC, which failed to cancel elections in parts of the state where there was over-voting, and even failed to review the results, in spite of the outcry over electoral malpractices.
The group said the failure of INEC to conduct a credible governorship election in Kogi State would contribute to the erosion of confidence of the people in the electoral umpire, and encouraged the judiciary to ensure that the fraud allowed by INEC should be redressed.
Below is the text of Uk’Omu Igala Organization’s press statement:
“We, the leaders and members of Uk’Omu Igala Organization, a socio-cultural group in Kogi East Senatorial District, are depressed and disappointed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has failed to invoke its constitutional powers to effect redress in the conduct by its officials whose fraudulent roles have produced a so-called winner in the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Kogi State.
“The election was tainted by so many irregularities that the Electoral Act 2022 had envisaged and made provisions for how they should be treated, but the electoral umpire looked the other way to allow malpractices to stand in order to injure those who participated in the elections in accordance with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act 2022.
“During the governorship election in Kogi State on November 11, 2023, there was massive over-voting in five local government areas, an electoral offence exposed by the Bi-modal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS), but the Electoral Officers deliberately ignored this fraud and went ahead to announce the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Usman Ododo, as winner of the election.
The election was tainted by so many irregularities that the Electoral Act 2022 had envisaged and made provisions for how they should be treated
“Apart from being obvious to the general public, it is on record that the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, reported over-voting in the five local governments before the results were declared. The Situation Room stated clearly that: “The BVAS functioned optimally in most polling units where it was used for accreditation in [the] State. However, Situation Room is concerned by reports of over-voting…and INEC’s failure to apply the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 in addressing the menace last Saturday. INEC had acknowledged incidents of pre-filled result sheets before the commencement of polls affecting 5 LGAs in Kogi State -Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori/Mangongo, Okehi and Okene. Regrettably, INEC has gone ahead to collate results from these LGAs without conducting any thorough investigation and making its findings public. This is condemnable.”
“We are appalled that the INEC failed to do two things that the Electoral Act empowers it to embark upon when the kinds of electoral fraud that took place in Kogi State occurs. First, Section 40 of the Electoral Act 2022, says clearly
“Where the total number of votes cast at a Polling Unit exceeds the number of accredited voters at the Polling Unit, the result of the election for that Polling Unit shall be declared null and void, and a report in that regard shall be made to the Collation Officer.” This provision of the Act was not implemented in the five local governments where the IReV proved that there was unacceptable over-voting.
INEC had acknowledged incidents of pre-filled result sheets before the commencement of polls affecting 5 LGAs in Kogi State
Secondly, Section 99 (a) and (b) of the Electoral Act 2022 states clearly that:
(a) Where the Commission receives a report and it is satisfied that a declaration/ return may have been made involuntarily or contrary to law, regulations and guidelines, the Commission shall withhold the publication of the result(s) and issuance of Certificate of Return to the candidate declared the winner of the election.
(b) The Commission shall within seven (7) days review such reports and the concerned result(s) and mandate the original Collation Officer or Returning Officer or a new one to make a declaration/return, which may entail the conduct of a supplementary or a rerun election.
“In contravention of this provision, the INEC headquarters failed to review the results of the election within seven days, in spite of the loud outcry over the dubious way the election was conducted. The electoral body rather went ahead to use the fraudulent result to issue a Certificate of Return to APC’s Usman Ododo.
“As stated by various civil society organizations, lawyers and experts in political science, the role INEC played in the governorship election in Kogi State is totally unacceptable and a setback for the country’s democracy. It is safe to state that the actions of INEC as currently constituted under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has become the biggest threat to Nigeria’s democracy. The Commission’s attitude lately has further dampens the interest of the Nigerian people in electoral democracy, as the electoral umpire elects to support electoral fraud rather than authentic votes cast by the Nigerian people.
The role INEC played in the governorship election in Kogi State is totally unacceptable
“We, therefore, call on the judiciary to save the situation by ensuring a redress. We appeal to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation to set up a panel made up of unbiased judges to review the conduct of the elections in Kogi State on November 11, 2023.
“Our democracy should not be one that rewards fraud and punishes those who play in accordance with the provisions of our electoral law. All hands must be on deck to save our democracy.