Osun And Legality of Inconclusive Governorship Poll

Nigeria News takes a look at the legality of the declaration of Osun governorship election by INEC as inconclusive.

The Peoples Democratic Party has challenged the legality of declaring the Osun governorship poll of Saturday as inconclusive. Having beaten the ruling All Progressives Congress with 353 votes in the election, PDP expected the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to declare its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke as the winner.

But the commission called for a rerun in seven (7) units in four (4) local government areas of the state, with the hope that the 3,498 cancelled votes in those units would help produce a clear winner on Thursday.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan said that the party would still emerge victorious after the rerun as he advised the INEC to be transparent.

For the first time in many years of the present democracy, the Osun State governorship poll provoked democracy as it was keenly contested. Yes, there were some irregularities, the poll showed that Nigeria could be better because electorate actually dictated the pace of the election.

They came out in mass to choose their leaders. And rather than dissipating energy on the legality of the decision of INEC to declare Osun election inconclusive, the parties should prepare for the re-run.

The Supreme Court has never nullified an election. Re-run, though a creation of INEC guidelines, has been validated by the Courts.

In terms of Section 179 of the Constitution, Senator Adeleke ought to be declared as the governor of Osun State but INEC guidelines empower the Commission to declare election inconclusive where the margin between the winner and 1st runner-up is less than cancelled votes.

The recent governorship elections in Abia, Kogi, Bayelsa states, INEC declared the elections inconclusive despite the emergence of a winner. In Abia, the Court of Appeal said INEC could not do so when a winner had emerged but the Supreme Court gave judicial approval for re-run/inconclusive elections.

In 2015, INEC guidelines, pages 22 – 23, Paragraph 4, Section N issued pursuant to Section 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) empowers INEC to declare election inconclusive where the margin of victory is less than the number of registered voters in cancelled Polling Units.

Can PDP challenge the decision of INEC? They can, but nothing will come out of it going by the reasons given by the Commission. PDP should prepare for the rerun and not dissipate energy and resources on fruitless legal niceties.

Under our current electoral jurisprudence, everything is against the Petitioner. The Peoples Democratic Party has begun a romance with his former member and the SDP candidate, Iyiola Omisore on the way forward.

This is where the PDP has got a strength as everything is pointing towards ousting APC in Osun. There is no stronger party the APC can run to now, except the electorate, many of whom are civil servants that had endured half salaries for months under Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

And because the rerun will only take place at some polling units, for any of the party to win, it will take more than money but the minds of the electorate.

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Sunday AKINFENWA

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