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INEC: No cancellation of Anambra election, aggrieved parties should go to court

By The Rainbow
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THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has ruled out the cancellation of the Anambra State governorship election held on Saturday.

The commission said on Monday that once a returning officer announced the result of any election, there is no way the electoral commission can cancel its outcome.

It therefore urged all those dissatisfied with the election results to seek redress in the courts or the election tribunal in line with the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended.

The commission also said it would soon announce dates for the supplementary election in 210 polling units spread across 16 local government areas in the state, after evaluation of the report from officials of the commission.

The Chief Press secretary to INEC chairman, Mr Kayode Idowu, while reacting to calls for a total cancellation of the election by candidates that contested the Saturday election,  stressed that INEC could not go back and cancel what had been announced.

He said, 'This is the position of the law. There is no way INEC as a commission can cancel the outcome of the Anambra governorship election, because the returning officer has announced the results.

'The best option for any aggrieved political party or candidate is to take his or her grievances to the courts or election tribunal as the case may be.

'The issue of supplementary election is a policy decision of the Election Management Board (EMB). When the officials come back from the election duty in Anambra, they will submit their report and the commission will study it before coming out with dates for the supplementary election,' he said.

The  candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Chris Ngige; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tony Nwoye and that of the Labour Party (LP), Ifeanyi Ubah, on Sunday, alleged that the election was marred with irregularities and was not free and fair.

They call for the cancellation of entire election. The  APC secretariat  on Monday  insisted that only total cancellation of last Saturday's governorship poll would be acceptable to it.

But the Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Sir Victor Umeh, maintained on Monday that the election was free, fair and one of the best ever conducted in the country.

From the results collated and announced by the returning officer in the state, so far, APGA was already leading.

APC, while it describing the exercise as grossly-tainted and widely-manipulated, said it rejected the announcement by INEC to hold a supplementary election after declaring the election inconclusive. In a statement  in Lagos, the interim national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,  urged INEC to come clear on how the election was sabotaged from within the commission.

The APC said this was with a view to establishing how entrenched the forces of evil within the commission were and also to avert a looming national disaster into which an infiltrated, incompetent and conniving INEC could plunge the country.

The party said it was now apparent that the electoral commission is, indeed, not taking seriously the opinions of Anambra residents as well as local and foreign observers that most of the registered voters in the state were willfully disenfranchised on Saturday.

Mohammed said, 'First, the electoral commission proposed make-up election in only 65 polling units in Obosi before scaling things up to a supplementary election in those areas where election was cancelled.

'But we say, without equivocating, that a total cancellation of the election and the organisation of a fresh poll, under the supervision of a credible Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) will be acceptable to our party.''

The party also challenged the INEC to quickly carry out an internal investigation to determine the extent to which last Saturday's poll was sabotaged and compromised to the embarrassment of the nation, saying what occurred on that day might actually be treasonable.

'It is not enough for INEC's detached chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to tell the nation that an INEC official sabotaged the election in a certain part of the state, he must tell the nation who the fellow is, who he/she is working for, what is the extent of the damage he/she has done to this and previous elections and whether or not he/she has access to the commission's database of voters' register, which was apparently tampered with for Saturday's election,' it added.

The party also asked Jega why 16 electoral commissioners, who migrated to Anambra days before the election, ostensibly to supervise it, could not ensure the success of an election in a single state.

It also accused PDP of being an accessory to what it termed electoral malfeasance in Anambra State, going by the statement credited to it that the election was free and fair.

'In its inordinate ambition to humiliate our party at all costs, the PDP has ended up humiliating itself and embarrassing the nation. Or how else does one describe a bizarre situation in which a party will describe as free and fair, an election in which its own candidate and family members could not find their names in the voters' register? The joke is indeed on the PDP,' it added.

Meanwhile, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) on Monday voiced opposition to the calls for outright cancellation of the governorship election in Anambra State.

The irregularities were not all-pervasive to warrant such a call, the hairman of the group, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said in a report of its observations  presented to newsmen in Abuja.

To the group, although there were shortcomings in some areas during the conduct of the election, the situation did not warrant outright cancellation of results of the poll.

The group called on Professor Jega to expose all those allegedly working to sabotage the election and prosecute them to serve as deterrent to others.