The road to complete victory for the Ogun state governor, Dapo Abiodun has been stained with a few legal hitches. His reelection victory has been seen to have breached and gone against some part of the Electoral Act 2022. The Electoral Act 2022 was introduced and signed into law with the promise that it will bring a lot of changes that without a doubt will immensely impact the electoral process in Nigeria.
Dapo Abiodun was declared governor-elect after garnering 276,298 votes at the March 18 guber election, emerging winner over his opponents. The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ladi Adebutu, polled 262,383 votes to come second, thus trailing the winner with 13,915 votes. Biyi Otegbeye of the ADC polled 94, 754 votes to come third.
His declaration by the INEC State Returning Officer, Kayode Adebowale, might have breached some parts of the Electoral act 2022.
Ogun State Like Adamawa
On March 20, the electoral commission, INEC, declared the governorship election in Adamawa State inconclusive. Although final results tallied by INEC showed that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP scored the highest votes, INEC said the canceled votes were more than the margin of victory between Mr. Fintiri and the runner-up, Aisha Dahiru of the APC. Elections were canceled in 47 Registration Areas with a total of 41,796 registered voters, while 31,249 Permanent Voter Cards were collected.
Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 421,524 votes to defeat the nearest contender, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 390,275.
Also in Kebbi, the electoral umpire declared the governorship election as inconclusive. The collation and returning officer of the election, Yusuf Sa’idu, a professor at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, said there were cancellations of results in different polling units across Registration Areas (RAs) in 20 of the 21 local government areas of Kebbi State.
The total number of collected PVCs in those affected polling units came to a total of 91,829, hence the decision.
However, in Ogun State, the reverse was the case despite having the same electoral situation. The number of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) collected in places where elections were not held or canceled is 33,750, and the margin of lead between the two candidates as announced by INEC Returning Officer is 13,915. Despite this, Dapo Abiodun of the APC was declared as Governor-elect.
Dapo Abiodun Declaration Wrong – Lawyer
Festus Ogun, a constitutional lawyer and Managing Counsel at FOLEGAL has condemned the INEC’S declaration of Dapo Abiodun as Ogun state Governor-elect. Mr. Ogun said the declaration was illegal and a blatant violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act and other extant laws.
Section 24(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 says that “Where an election has commenced and there is reason to believe that there is or has been substantial disruption of election in a polling unit or constituency or it is impossible to continue with the election occasioned by threat to peace and security of electoral officials and materials, the Commission shall suspend the election and appoint another date for the continuation of the election or the process.”; Ogun who analysed this said Dapo’s declaration is a gross breach of the Electoral Act.
“ In Ogun State, in polling units where there were widespread violence and substantial disruption, INEC indeed suspended elections but the Commission did not appoint another date for the continuation of the election exercise. Invariably, this is a gross breach of the Electoral Act because the word “shall” used in the above section does not give INEC any room for exercising discretion. It simply places INEC under a mandatory duty to suspend the election AND appoint a later date for continuation of voting exercise.” Ogun said.
Ogun who emphasized sections 24(1),(3),(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act 2022 berated INEC and said the decision was a fatal violation of the Electoral Act.
“It is my candid view that INEC cannot in non-compliance with 24(1),(3),(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 declare or return a winner in the Ogun Gubernatorial Election since the total number of registered voters in the “canceled” or “suspended” areas is substantial and far above the slim margin between His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun and Hon Ladi Adebutu. INEC’s declaration and return of Abiodun is not supported by law.” he said
Ogun, while still reacting, noted that electoral injustice in a constitutional democracy is worse than a coup and must never be tolerated under any guise whatsoever.
Ogun Election Inconclusive, Group Kicks
A group, under the aegis of Vanguard for Democracy and Good Governance, has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to desist from issuing the certificate of return to the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun.
The group tagged INEC’s action as fraudulent and enjoined the electoral umpire to embrace justice by withholding the certificate of return.
“While we commend INEC on the introduction of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the result viewing portal (IREV) which have largely improved electoral conduct in the country, we make bold to say that the election in Ogun State, despite being marred with all forms of electoral malpractices, still did not produce a winner, in accordance with the Electoral Act. This particular case is one fraudulent one and INEC needs to do the needful rather than take steps that attract avoidable litigation and put the commission in a bad light.
“On this note, we enjoin INEC to embrace justice by withholding the certificate of return in the Ogun guber until a rerun election is declared and conducted” the statement read in part.