Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is over reaching itself and should stick to its mandate of seeing through the completion of the electoral process.
Spokesperson of the Campaign Council of the Enugu State PDP, Nana Ogbodo, said this at a press conference held after INEC suspended the collation of the final results and declaration of a victor in the March 18 Enugu State Governorship Poll.
Ogbodo said that the PDP was disappointed at the decision of INEC; adding that putting the Abia and Enugu situations in one basket clearly shows that the national headquarters of INEC has mixed things up or had not been properly briefed.
He noted that the situation in Enugu State is not on all fours with what is happening in Abia State. In Abia State, they were still collecting and doing some collation.
Ogbodo noted that in Enugu State, the collation of results had been completed.
The spokesperson said the entire process had become ‘functus officio’ and not for the Returning Officer to begin to probe into the result because there is a law that permits anybody, who is dissatisfied with the process, to go to the tribunal.
“Unlike the situation in Abia State, the results of the entire 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu State, including those of Nkanu East and Nsukka LGAs, have been fully collated by the Returning Officer, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe.
“What remains for the INEC is to sum up the returns by the Local Government Returning Officers and declare our candidate, Dr Peter Mbah, the governor-elect.
“Section 64(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that where collation has been completed as in the present case of Enugu State, the duty of the collation officer, who collated the result, is to announce the result and make a declaration.
“Therefore, having collated the results from Nsukka LGA and Nkanu East LGA, the statutory duty and legal responsibility of the State Returning Officer is simply to announce and declare the results.
“INEC cannot, by law, suspend the declaration of results already collated,” he said.
Ogbodo said that issues relating to accreditation and votes cast in a polling unit and the fate of such votes where they exceed the number of accredited voters in such units are guided by Section 51(2) of the Act.
He noted that the position of the law is that a Returning Officer has no power to cancel any results at the stage of collation.
“The only option open to any person dissatisfied with the process is to resort to Section 130(1) of the Electoral Act, which vests the power to receive and adjudicate petitions complaining of an undue election or undue return in an election in the tribunal or court.
“We believe that the Returning Officer for Nkanu East Local Government Area has duly complied with the provision of Sections 64(4)(a)&(b) and Section 64(a)&(d) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“We consequently restate our position that the only option left to INEC, acting through the State Returning Officer for the Enugu State Governorship Election under Section 64(8) of the Electoral Act 2022, is to announce the results and make a declaration of the winner of the election.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to immediately announce the results it has already collated and declare Dr Peter Ndubisi Mbah the winner of the March 18 election,” he said.
The PDP spokesperson said that Nigerians witnessed the restiveness of the youth and people of the state as well as the electorate that massively voted for our candidate today.
He said that Enugu State has had this history of a peaceful conduct of elections, especially in the last seven years, adding that the state had never been identified as a volatile point, not in the least this one when PDP lost crucial elections.
“Our senatorial candidate lost his election to return to the senate. It was the same process that produced the result that gave the Labour Party the victory that also produced the Governorship because Nkanu East is in the Enugu East Senatorial Zone,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party (LP) Candidate in Enugu State Governorship Election, Chief Chijioke Edeoga, has again demanded the outright cancellation of the results generated from Nkanu East Local Government Area (LGA).
In a petition addressed to INEC, Edeoga said the non-usage of Bi-modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) rendered the results from Nkanu East LGA a nullity.
He said the total number of accredited results in the INEC server shows that the PDP allocated votes to its candidate, Dr Peter Mbah.
He said, “The just-concluded Enugu State Governorship Election is fraught with serial irregularities and fundamental flaws in the conduct of the Governorship election held on March 18 particularly with respect to Nkanu East LGA.
“We humbly wish to bring these irregularities to the attention of the Returning Officer for appropriate action as provided in the Electoral Act of 2022.
“The Electoral Act and guidelines made pursuant thereto provides that the BVAS is to be used for the conduct of the Gubernatorial and State Houses Election nationwide.
“This is a mandatory requirement and failure to comply with these requirements renders any result of such election invalid.
“The Commission through several public service announcements reiterated the centrality of the use of BVAS in the accreditation of voters through their permanent voters cards and in the transmission of the results directly from the polling units to the INEC portal.”
He added that the results collated by the Local Government Collation Officer were at variance with the results uploaded to the INEC IREV portal.
According to him, the unexplained discrepancies are as a result of non-usage of BVAS as mandatorily required by the Electoral Act and the guidelines of the electoral body, which led to the fraudulent allocation of votes to PDP by the officials appointed by INEC to conduct the election.
“No wonder the discrepancies between the votes they hurriedly uploaded to the IREV and the votes they presented for collation,” he said.
He said in several other polling units across the wards, the results collated clearly show that the votes allocated to the candidates are more than the total number of PVCs collected as a result of non-usage of the BVAS.
“It is evidently clear that the BVAS as required by the Electoral Act was not used for the voters’ accreditation. By virtue of the Electoral Act 2022 Sec. 47 (3), the results from the entire Nkanu East LGA should be cancelled.
“We, therefore, urge the Returning Officer to cancel the results of Nkanu East LGA which was conducted without the usage of BVAS as mandatorily required by