The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the December 5 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the results of votes cast in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and declare the winner of the elections.
The electoral commission had declared election results in seven LGAs with Southern Ijaw the outstanding area where results have not been declared.
In a petition to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sylva said that the commission lacked the powers to cancel already concluded or on-going election.
The APC candidate in a letter to the commission said: “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 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 extend similar action to 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 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 status does 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.