On Sunday night, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the November 6 Anambra State governorship election inconclusive as a result of the violence that stalled the exercise in Ihiala Local Government area.
Though Charles Soludo, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was ahead of the other candidates in 17 of the 21 local government areas in the state, the margin between him and his closest rival was lower than the number of registered voters in the outstanding local government, according to INEC.
Hence, the commission made the declaration pursuant to Section 153 of the Electoral Act which stipulates a rerun if the margin of victory in an election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled or not held.
However, reactions followed the decision on social media, much describing it as the “magic of the government just like in Osun”. In 2018, INEC declared an election in which Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was leading ‘inconclusive’ in Osun State and eventually returned Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following a rerun four days later.
Subsequently, INEC declared governorship elections inconclusive in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto State during the 2019 general election. In five of those states, opposition candidates were on their way to victory.
Collated results had already shown that Umar Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was 32,476 votes ahead of Governor Muhammed Bindow, his closest challenger and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), when Mr. Andrew Haruna, INEC returning officer in the state, declared the election inconclusive in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, on March 11, 2019.
Haruna’s reason was that the lead margin was less than the 40,988 people who registered at the 44 polling stations where results were cancelled. Consequently, INEC fixed a supplementary governorship election for March 29, 2019. Following the election in 14 local government areas, Fintiri retained control and was finally declared the winner having polled the total of 376,552 against 336,338 of Bindow.
“First, that the margin of lead between the PDP and APC Candidates is 4,059 votes. Secondly, the number of cancelled votes, even without that of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, which we had earlier cancelled was 45, 312. Thirdly, the total number of registered voters in the affected areas are 139, 240,” Professor Mohammed Kyari, INEC returning officer in the 2019 Bauchi governorship election, gave reasons for declaring the exercise inconclusive at about 12 am on Monday, March 11, 2019.
According to him, Bala Mohammed, candidate of the PDP, had polled 469, 512 votes to lead Mohammed Abubakar, the candidate of the APC and incumbent governor of the state who came close with 465,453 votes, but a winner could not be declared until a rerun election was conducted in the areas where voting was interrupted.
Bala Mohammed was eventually declared the winner after a supplementary election on March 23, 2019.
Since 121,011 voters were either not able to vote or election was not held in their areas due to violence, INEC declared the 2019 Bauchi governor election inconclusive.
Sebastian Maimako, the state returning officer, said although Samuel Ortom of the PDP scored the highest number of votes of 410,576 and was closely followed by Emmanuel Jime of the APC who polled a total number of 329,022 votes, a rerun would be held within 21 days to determine the winner.
Ortom, who had just defected to the PDP and was seeking reelection as governor of the state, eventually emerged the winner after a supplementary election was held at 204 polling units in 22 local government areas.
Like five other states during the 2019 general election, a winner could not emerge in Kano because the number of cancelled votes was higher than the difference in votes polled by the leading candidates: Abba Yusuf of the PDP and incumbent governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC. However, a by-election tilted Kano, the most populous Nigerian state after Lagos, went the Osun way.
Ganduje, who had lost the first election held on March 9 by a slim margin after polling 987,819 against Yusuf’s 1,014,474, was declared winner after scoring 45,876 votes against Yusuf’s 10, 239 votes in the supplementary election in 28 out of the 44 local government areas in the state on March 23, 2019.
While the police claimed the election was peaceful, there were reports of political thugs attacking voters and journalists covering the election.
PLATEAU AND SOKOTO
Over cancellation of votes in places like Jos East, Jos North, Jos South, Kanam, Langtang North, Langtang South, Mangu, Panshin, Kanke, Mikang, Quanpan, Riyom, Shendam, and Wase as a result of over-voting, manual voting, and violence, the 2019 governor election in Plateau State was declared inconclusive despite Simon Lalong, the incumbent governor and candidate of the APC, leading his PDP opponent with 44, 929 votes.
According to the returning officer, the 49,377 cancelled votes in the election were in excess of the margin between the two leading candidates, and a supplementary election was necessary to determine a winner.
A similar situation played out in Sokoto State where Aminu Tambuwal, the incumbent governor and candidate of the PDP polled 489,558 votes against 486,145 polled by Aliyu Ahmad of the APC.
Following supplementary elections in the two states on Saturday, March 24, 2019, Lalong and Tambuwal were returned as governors after defeating their major rivals with 48,769 and 342 votes respectively.
WHAT NEXT FOR ANAMBRA?
With results from 20 local governments declared, Chukwuma Soludo of APGA polled 103,946 votes, while Valentine Ozigbo of PDP has 51,322 votes. Andy Uba of APC has 42,942 votes.
This leaves a gap of 52,624 votes between Soludo and Ozigbo. Supplementary election will hold on Tuesday, with the 148,407 registered voters in Ihiala Local Government determining the eventual winner of the race..
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