Friday, December 11, 2015 8:14 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the December 5 Bayelsa State gubernatorial Election, Chief Timipre Sylva, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to add up and announce the results from the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and declare a winner in the elections.
In a petition to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, which was copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sylva stated that the commission lacks the powers to cancel already concluded or an on-going election.
“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 Sate. The Commission’s power, in the above is limited only to the postponement of election that has not commenced,” Sylva wrote in the letter dated 8th December 2015.
The APC candidate, however, further requested that should the commission feel “strongly that it has the powers to cancel already concluded or on-going elections,” it should also cancel the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama Local Government Areas, Wards 4 and 5 of Yenagoa and Ward 8, 9 and 10 of Nembe Local Government Areas.”
On Southern Ijaw Local Government, Sylva admitted that there was no election in the area on December 5, 2015, due to some violence. He, however, insisted that on December 6: “ election materials were distributed from Local Government Headquarters at Oporoma to the different ward headquarters, and elections conducted in a free and fair manner at the different polling units and results announced….
“That 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 further stressed that 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 to stand will not only expose your Commission to endless and avoidable litigations but would become a ready tool in the hands of officials of your Commission the power to truncate the will of the people,” he maintained.
In addition, Sylva submitted that the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama Local Government Areas, Wards 4 and 5 of Yenagoa and Ward 8, 9 and 10 of Nembe Local Government Areas were marred by massive violence, abduction of both electoral officials and materials, massive thumb printing and rigging but that “despite our oral and written protests, your commission accepted the results at units, wards, local government area and state collation centres at the areas highlighted above.”
“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.