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INEC Cautions Federal Government on Militarization of Polling Stations

Oyewale Oyelola

The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has warned Federal Government not to deploy military officers to polling units for 2015 general elections.

The INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ondo state, Mr. Akin Orebiyi said this in Media chat on the inclusive election to Ilaje/Ese -odo Federal Constituency.

Orebiyi said the deployment of military officers to polling unit will not stop electoral violence.

His words: “I am not in support of militarization of polling units to stop electoral violence. Politicians must change their attitude, winning election should not be do or die affairs. The presence of military-men would scare people away from the polling stations.

“The strict guidelines imposed by INEC is gradually changing the attitude of politicians toward election. Like what happened in Ilaje where INEC declared the election inconclusive due to cancellation of election in Ilogbo ward due to violence. It pained politicians because they will spend more for supplementary election.”

Ondo REC called on Media, civil societies and other stakeholders to support INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega effort in bringing sanity to electoral process in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, The Labour Party in Ondo State has taken Independent National Electoral Commission to Federal Court of Appeal, Akure for declaration of the bye election into the seat of Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency of Ondo State as inconclusive.

The party is praying the court to compel INEC to declare its candidate in the election, Kolade Akinjo, the winner of the election.

According to the suit, with number FHC/AK/CS/28/14 filed on behalf of the party by Dayo Akinlaja, the party asked the court for a declaration that the INEC Returning Officer for the election has no power to declare the election as inconclusive.

The defendants in the suit include; the INEC, Prof. B. Adeyemi, the Returning Officer, Advanced Congress of Nigeria, All Progressive Congress, Democratic Peoples Party, People for Democratic Change, Peoples Democratic Party, and the Progressive Peoples Alliance.

LP held that, “Having regard to the provisions of Sections 27 and 69 of the Electoral Act, 2010, does a Returning Officer have the power to declare a National Assembly Election inconclusive after the conduct of election, counting of votes and collation of results of the election?

“Did the 1st and 2nd defendants act within the ambit of the law in failing to formally declare elected candidate, who scored the highest number of votes in the House of Representatives Election for Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency held on Saturday, the 5th day of April, 2014 after the final collation of results?”

The Labour Party asked the court for “a declaration that the 1st and 2nd defendants acted ultra vires their powers under the law in declaring as inconclusive the House of Representatives election for Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency held on Saturday, the 5th day of April, 2014, instead of formally declaring the candidate with the highest number of votes as the winner of the said election”

It also sought “an order of perpetual injunction retraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from conducting any further poll or election in respect of the vacant seat of Ilaje/Ese-Odo Federal Constituency in the Hous of Representatives in whatever part of the constituency.”

“An order of mandatory injunction compelling the 1st and 2nd defendants to formally declare the candidate with the highest number of votes in the said election as the winner thereof.”

It would be recalled that, the INEC Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Babatunde Adeyemi, declared the election inconclusive. The results of the balloting, as compiled by INEC, showed that Kolade Akinjo of the LP polled 23,926 votes. Adewale Kukute of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the other hand, came second with 22,628 votes out of the over 56,455 total valid votes cast.

The returning officer said, he declared the poll inconclusive because the difference of about 1,298 votes between the winner and the runner-up was far lower than the number of cancelled votes. He said over 7,000 voters in Ilogbo ward could not participate in the election.

INEC is yet to fix the date for the supplementary election as the time of filing this report.



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