The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the December 5 governorship election in Bayelsa State that was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Chief Timipre Sylva, has demanded that all results from the recent election be summed up and the winner declared.
The INEC declared the governorship election inconclusive after elections in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state was canceled as a result of widespread irregularities.
But in a petition copied to the Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sylva argued that INEC lacked the powers to cancel elections already concluded or ongoing.
The APC candidate warned that INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu could be setting up a wrong precedence by canceling an election, which was the prerogative of the election tribunal.
“It is important to note that under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), there is no power either, express or implied that is vested on the Resident Electoral Commissioner, your commission or any staff whatsoever to cancel election that has commenced or concluded, in any manner as was done in Bayelsa State. The Commission’s power, in the above is limited only to the postponement of election that has not commenced.
“The elections were concluded on Sunday 6th December without any reported violence from the polling units or wards either by INEC officials on the field at the units or ward level.
“That the different results from the LGAs were being collated at the state collation centre in Yenagoa from Sunday 6th to 7th December as the results were brought in by the different LGAs, and the Returning officer never reported any violence either during the election or while collation was ongoing as he had told everyone that the results of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area are still being awaited.
“That at about 4pm or 5pm, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bayelsa State announced the cancellation of the results of the election of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area citing violence and ballot snatching, and that another date for elections in Southern Ijaw would be announced”, Sylva said.
According to him, the current statues do not support the cancellation of an election while collation was on-going:
“We consider the action of cancelling results of an election while collation is on-going as a dangerous precedent, usurping of the functions of the Tribunals established by the Constitution illegal and reminiscent of the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and if allowed stand will not only expose your Commission to endless and avoidable litigations and would become a ready tool in the hands of officials of your Commission the power to truncate the will of the people,” he maintained.
“Consequent upon the above facts, we are calling on you to direct the Returning Officer to add up the results from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, and declare a winner for the Bayelsa State Governorship elections held between the 5th and 6th of December 2015.
“However, without prejudice to our assertion in paragraphs 16 and 17 above, where your Commission feels strongly that it has powers to cancel already concluded or on-going elections, it is demanded that, in the interest of equity, fair-play and justice, your commission cancels the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama Local Government Areas, ward 4 and 5 of Yenagoa and wards 8, 9 and 10 of Nembe Local Government Areas”, Sylva concluded.