Kogi, Bayelsa Governorship Elections Raise Anxiety Over The Future Of Elections In Nigeria

Incidents of violence that occurred in the course of the Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections have raised alarm nationwide about the nature of elections in Nigeria. 

Unprecedented levels of violence resulting in multiple deaths across both States is raising questions about the future of Nigeria’s electoral process. 

National and international observers are worried that political party thugs and supporters aided by uniformed persons unleashed massive violence on voters seeking to exercise their franchise. Nigerians question the spree of violence that characterised the elections, despite the heavy deployment of security personnel to the States for the elections.

In its interim statement on the Kogi election, Situation Room decried the incidences of attack on some election observers, vote trading and the presence and free movement of thugs across the State, instigating and perpetrating violence. 

Situation Room and other Civil Society groups called for the cancellation of the election in Kogi State. 

In spite of these developments, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday, 18th November 2019, declared Governor Yahaya Bello winner of the election, announcing that he scored a total of 406,222 votes to defeat his closest rival, Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 189,704 votes. The only female gubernatorial candidate in the election, Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) scored 9,482 votes. The Kogi West Senatorial District re-run election, which held on the same day as the governorship election was declared inconclusive, as the margin of lead between the two leading candidates in the election, was less than the number of registered voters in the polling units where votes were cancelled. According to the results announced by INEC, Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored a total of 80,118 votes while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 59,548 votes. 

The total number of registered voters in the 53 polling units where votes were cancelled is 43,127, which exceeds the vote margin of 20,570 between the two candidates. 

Following this development, INEC stated that a date will be announced for supplementary election in the affected areas.

Following the announcement of the election results, the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Musa Wada rejected the results and revealed their intention to seek legal redress. 

Also, in a statement released by the PDP on Tuesday, 19th November 2019, the party expressed plans to file law suits against identified INEC officials and security personnel, who the party allege to have aided in rigging the elections.

In Bayelsa State, there were several reports of late commencement of polls owing to logistics challenges. 

In addition, there were reports of violence, including ballot box snatching, although not as brazen as the reports received from Kogi State. 

On Monday, 18th November 2019, INEC returned David Lyon as winner of the governorship election in the State. 

Lyon scored a total of 352,552 votes to defeat Duoye Diri of the PDP who scored 143,172 votes, as well as other candidates. 

In reaction to the announcement of the results, Diri insisted that he won the election and should be declared winner by INEC.

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