The Ogun East Senatorial Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Engr. Adeola Sosanwo, has written a petition to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) alleging attempts “by the some unscrupulous elements within the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abeokuta, Ogun State, not to subvert the will of the people and the Rule of Law but to also occasion a miscarriage of justice with its attendant consequences on law and public order.”
Sosanwo contested the election with Senator Lekan Mustapha of the All Progressives Congress (APC). While Mustapha garnered 84, 924 votes to be in the lead, Sosanwo got 82,457 votes, trailing with 2,472 votes.
In a letter dated 25th February, 2019, and addressed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ogun State and copied to the Commission’s Chairman, the Commissioner of Police and Director of the State Security Service (SSS), Sosanwo said since the Returning Officer for the Senatorial election held on the 23rd of February, 2019 had declared the election inconclusive, the proper thing to do is to hold election in the disputed polling booths and ward.
The petition reads in part, “As you are well aware, on Saturday, the 23rd of February, 2019, the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held across the country. I contested in the election as the PDP candidate for Ogun East Senatorial District. The senatorial district is made up of nine (9) local government area; among which is Ijebu East Local Government Area.
“As the election got underway, issues arose in one out of the eleven (11) wards that make up Ijebu East Local Government Area. The ward is known as Ajebandele Ward. The said ward has ten (10) polling booths; out of which seven (7) polling booths returned over-voting. This eventually led to altering and mutilation of the result sheets.
“Following the protestations of the agents and representatives of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the results of seven (7) out of ten (10) polling booths in the ward had been mutilated, upon getting to the Local Government Collation Centre in Ogbere, the Electoral Officer (EO) in the local government, one Mrs Osifeso announced that the results of the entire ward would be cancelled and consequently declared them cancelled.
“At the Federal Constituency Collation Centre, St. Mary Primary School, Ijebu-Mushin, Dr. Dairo of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) said since the PDP House of Representatives candidate led the first runner up who is APC’s candidate with 6,994 votes as opposed to the 13,000 registered voters in the Ajebandele ward where the election results were cancelled, the PDP candidate could not be declared the winner of the election.
“From there, Dr. Dairo took his report and the results to the Ogun East Senatorial District Collation Centre at Itoro, Ijebu-Ode and submitted them to the Returning Officer for the Senatorial District, Prof. Chris Nwoka, who, also publicly declared the election in Ogun East Senatorial District inconclusive because of the same reason before the media and the whole world.
“In the extant case of Ogun East Senatorial District, the margin between me and the candidate of the APC is 2,472 votes whereas the number of registered voters in the cancelled Ajebandele ward is in excess of 13,000!
Since the Electoral Officer and Returning Officers at the Federal Constituency Collation and Senatorial District Collation Centres have declared the election inconclusive, the only option left for the Commission is to fix a date for a rerun in the affected ward and hold same. “Neither the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) nor any other official of INEC has the powers to declare the results of cancelled or inconclusive elections and return a candidate as winner.
” I say this without any equivocation because in the build-up to the 2019 General Elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued regulations and guidelines set to guide the conduct of elections into the various elective offices pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended)and the Electoral Act 2010(as amended).
“The candidate contended that the Returning Officer for the Senatorial District was the only one vested with the powers to declare return of an election or declare same inconclusive.
“In the instant scenario, the INEC guidelines makes clear provisions in respect of the collation and declaration of Senatorial District Election Result at State Level and also on when such an Election will be declared inconclusive.
“The guideline clearly vests the power to return a candidate as the winner of a Senatorial District Election Result in the Senatorial District Collation/Returning Officer for the Senatorial District Election. Of relevance is the provisions of paragraph 37(b) which provides as follows;
‘(b) Where the margin of lead between the two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the Polling Unit(s) where election was cancelled or not held in line with section26 and 53 of the Electoral Act, the returning officer shall decline to make a return until polls have taken place in the affected Polling Unit(s)and the results incorporated into a new form EC 8D(I)and subsequently recorded into form EC8E(I)for Declaration and Return’.
“In the case of the Ogun East Senatorial District, the margin of lead between the two leading candidate is under 1,500 while elections were cancelled in Ajebandele ward with over 13,000 registered voters!
“Sosanwo urged the Commission to follow its own guidelines and the law in its handling of the situation, “no matter the pressure or whose ox is gored”.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that I wish to respectfully urge you to use your good offices to ensure that nothing untoward and illegal is done by the Commission or any of its officials ‘until polls have taken place in the affected Polling Unit(s) and the results incorporated into a new form EC 8D (I) and subsequently recorded into form EC8E (I) for Declaration and Return’ as stipulated in your own guidelines.
“Kindly fix a date to hold election in Ajebandele ward and communicate same to all the parties. It is only then that the results from the affected ward can be added to the existing results and a winner can be rightly and legally declared,” he said