Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Bayelsa governorship poll can’t pass credibility test


A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Niyi Akintola, has said a Returning officer has the power to cancel election results, if there is widespread violence preventing people from voting.

Akintola noted that where the violence affected more than half of a ward, the Returning officer could conduct a supplementary election.

According to him, where an election had taken place and the results announced at the polling units, he could not cancel such election.
Akintola said only an election petitions tribunal had the power to cancel such results.

Nation reports that another lawyer, Mr Ajibola Basiru, also said where there was violence and an election could not hold, the Returning officer could postpone the election, pending when security agencies would restore peace.

Basiru said it was high time the perpetrators of election violence were brought to justice to serve as a deterrent to others.
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) yesterday said last Saturday’s Bayelsa State governorship election was badly conducted and that it would not pass credibility test.

But the election monitoring umpire hailed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for cancelling the rescheduled poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
TMG’s Chairman Ibrahim Zikirullahi spoke in Abuja at the presentation of the organisation’s preliminary report by its 300 observers.

Zikirullahi said security agencies disappointed Nigerians by their conduct during the election.
He said: “The Bayelsa State governorship election, no doubt, was a very bad election and doesn’t have the minimum test of any credible election.

“Every aspect of the process was characterised by harassment and intimidation.
“For us, it is not an election that can pass a credible test.

“In Southern Ijaw, INEC workers could not move their materials because they were held hostage. There were gunshots and, many, including journalists, were chased into the bush by political thugs. There was no way an election could have taken place.

“We support the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw, based on what happened.”
The TMG chief regretted that despite reports it lodged with security agencies, three months before the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states on likely flashpoints and the need to be proactive, security agencies allegedly ignored the warnings.

Zikirullahi said: “From our experiences in Kogi and Bayelsa states, it is either the security agencies were compromised or they just wanted to dismiss our claims. For three months, we were spotlighting our feelings about security. Unfortunately, the security agencies disappointed Nigerians.

“The Bayelsa example calls to question the integrity and capability of security agencies in the elections. As far as we are concerned, the election in Kogi State was conclusive, even though INEC described it as inconclusive. But for Bayelsa, the intimidation, harassment and threats were more. INEC did fairly well; the state was militarised.

“The above findings suggest that the governorship election in Bayelsa State was characterised by serious irregularities throughout. These call to question the credibility of the election.

“TMG calls on INEC to adhere to its approved guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the 2015 general election to ensure credibility of the electoral process.”

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