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INEC Lacks Power To Withhold My Certificate Of Return – Okorocha |RN

        Rochas-Okorocha                                            Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha

Chidiebube Okeoma and Gibson Achonu

 

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on Wednesday said the Independent National Electoral Commission lacked power to withhold his certificate of return as the senator-elect for the Imo West.

He described the electoral body’s decision to withhold his certificate as part of efforts aimed at making him irrelevant ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Okorocha said this at the Government House, Owerri on while addressing some youths who paid him a solidarity visit.

He said only a court had the power to nullify any election after a winner had been declared.

He denied the allegation that INEC’s returning officer declared him winner of the senatorial election under duress, describing the allegation as an insult.

Okorocha said, “My certificate of return has not been issued and I wonder why INEC will withhold my certificate for a frivolous reason, without hearing from me.

“I am not a violent person and those who know me know that. This is why we have peace in Imo State.

“The returning officer could not have done that under duress under the watchful eyes of the police, the DSS (the Department of State Services) and party agents.

“I am not unmindful of the facts that those who are fighting me from Abuja are anxious to see me removed as a senator. I urge INEC to do the right thing immediately by releasing my certificate.”

The governor said he was not fighting anybody and those who were fighting him would fail.

He added, “My INEC certificate cannot be touched or seized. Doing so is belittling democracy in Nigeria.

“It is only the tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared.

“INEC cannot seize my certificate because of a mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”

Okorocha also described the governorship and state house of assembly elections in the state as “a sham and a mockery of democracy.”

He said he had lost confidence in the nation’s democracy.

He accused INEC of complicity in the conduct of the polls.

He insisted that the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, won the governorship election and had the required spread of 25 per cent in 21 out of the 27 local governments in the state.

The governor said, “It is obvious that INEC in Imo State is not guaranteeing us free, fair and credible elections.

“Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance actually won the election, but INEC criminally disbanded electoral officers of the commission and introduced people from Abia College of Agriculture who arrived the state midnight.

“They brought people they had been training for weeks in Anambra before the elections.”  (Punch)

 

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SHOCK: Another Cancellation Looms As INEC Has No Result Sheet For Inspection

 

There is palpable apprehension over the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] on February 23, 2019.

Sources have revealed that fear of cancellation of the election result is looming as, 12 days after, INEC has no result sheets for inspection by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

ElombahNews had reported on March 6 that one week after INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the president-elect, the electoral umpire has failed to provide explanations on discrepancies noted in the results of the February 23 presidential election it announced last Wednesday.

It was also reported that the Court of Appeal ordered INEC to allow Atiku Abubakar and his party have unfettered access to all certified copies of the materials used in conducting the 2019 elections.

That court order is reportedly causing tension in INEC as to what to do.

It was also gathered that, soon after the court ruling, INEC on Wednesday ordered its legal department to look into the ruling to advise it appropriately, a source in the know revealed.

It is now two weeks after the conduct of the elections but it seems the Electoral Commission does not have full results in its kitty for inspection.

Worse still is the fact that INEC does not have result sheets and other materials it used for collation of the results, causing anxiety and fears of annulment of elections aftermath of court ruling on Wednesday.

Even of concern is why INEC has yet to provide details of the outcome of the polls either on its website or at its state offices.

Checks conducted through INEC online portal, calls to its states’ offices, wards, local governments, federal constituencies and senatorial districts showed no physical collation or online release of the results.

This is causing fears the election results may have been cooked as efforts were rather placed on declaring winners than following processes as allowed by extant laws before declaration of election results could be done.

When Daily Mail enquired from Oluwole Osaze-Uzi, INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, it was not successful.

Also, attempts to speak with Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner on Voter Education was also unsuccessful as his phone rang out.

But several sources told Daily Mail that it should normally take few weeks to collate all election materials “owing to the magnitude of the election and the materials used.

“Nigeria is a large country, we shouldn’t be hasty in some issues but I can agree with you that at least all the materials and equipment used should have been at states’ offices.”

Asked why state offices are yet to have the equipment and materials, he said state offices should be asked or INEC “higher authority would be in a position to answer that.”

A source at the legal department of INEC told Daily Mail on phone that “it was always going to be tough providing the materials the court has ordered.

“I don’t know why materials used during the election have not be submitted but I am not in a position to speak – I am in the legal department, my mandate is not to speak on issues like this.”

According to her, “There should be thing to inspect, in fact all things being sought should be available for a petitioner to examine – that’s what all relevant laws in the country says.”

When asked what if the petitioner cannot be provided the materials being sought, she responded, “That is left for the court to decide, but it could mean cancellation of result because you can’t announce nothing for something.”  (ElombahNews)

 

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Atiku, PDP Challenge Buhari’s Victory, Demand Inspection Of Election Materials |RN

• Party leaders in protest march to INEC headquarter

 

Godwin Tsa and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has asked the Presidential Election Tribunal to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to surrender materials used for the February 23 presidential election for inspection.

The request is contained in a motion ex-parte filed yesterday by the opposition party and its candidate dated March 4, 2019.

In the suit,  Atiku and the PDP have asked the tribunal to grant them  leave to inspect the Voters Register, the Smart Card Reader machines, ballot papers and other vital documents used in the conduct of the poll. 

In addition, they urged the tribunal to compel the INEC to allow their agents scan and make photocopies of vital documents used in the conduct of the election, for the purpose of establishing alleged irregularities.

Counsel to the applicants, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) disclosed that the reliefs sought against INEC were for the purpose of filing and maintaining an election petition they intend to lodge against the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.

Filed in support of the motion ex-parte is a 12-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Col. Austin Akobundu (retd), director, Contact and Mobilization of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the motion, which has INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as first to third respondents, respectively.

According to the result of the disputed presidential polls released by INEC, Atiku and his political platform came second behind President Buhari of APC.

Atiku rejected the outcome  and vowed to challenge it in court.

He calimed the election was fraught with manifest irregularities adding that  results collated by agents at various polling units across the federation, was at variance with what was eventually declared by INEC, in favour of President Buhari.

Uche who explained to Daily Sun that the procedure is a condition precedent for the filling of an election petition, assured that the main petition would be filed at the tribunal this week.

Meanwhile, leaders and supporters of the main opposition party, yesterday, besieged the headquarters of INEC to protest alleged violations of the Electoral Act during elections.

The protesting PDP leaders and supporters were led by the party’s National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who accused INEC of conniving with the APC to thwart the will of Nigerians.  He said the electoral body, by its actions, was piling up gun powder in the country, noting that it will be disastrous when it explodes.

According to the party chairman, INEC’s conduct in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections fell short of expectations and cannot stand any scrutiny.

In a protest letter addressed to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the PDP leader contended that the selective use of the Smart Card Readers during the election was a violation of the electoral guidelines.

He claimed that in the run-up to the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, this weekend, the opposition has “credible intelligence” that some INEC officials were allegedly working with APC to manipulate the polls in  Delta, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Rivers, Kwara and Kaduna states.

“The mood in the country shows clearly that INEC declared the wrong person winner in the presidential election and I urge you to watch your action because history is recording all you do for posterity

“The APC is deploying military operatives to help some of your (INEC) black legs manipulate Saturday’s elections in some states particularly Kaduna, Delta, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Kwara but Nigerians in those states have mobilised to defend their votes,” Secondus stated.

The letter entitled: “Cases of infractions and deliberate violations of the Electoral law and guidelines” read in part:

“The unconstitutional deployment of the armed forces especially soldiers and police for the illegitimate purposes to harassing, intimidating, suppressing of leaders of the PDP and suppression of voters in PDP strongholds across the country which are very well known to you. The use of these same security agents by the government to harass and intimidate Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and certain INEC’s National Commissioners for the sake of forcing them to declare votes for the APC’s candidates throughout the country have been officially or otherwise brought to your knowledge by the affected officers who even threatened to resign from their positions, yet you have decided to keep mute over it in a way portraying outright conspiracy and collusion of yourself and the commission with the APC government perpetrators.

“We also want to bring to your knowledge that most of the collation centres in the country were cordoned off by officers and men of the armed forces who chased away accredited agents and or candidates of our party, the PDP, from such centers while the results of the elections from the units were being manipulated, mutilated and altered to suite the dictates and criminal desires of the APC-led government. These results that were tampered with were accepted by you and your commission and announced as results of the elections.

“In places like Lagos, Rivers, Nassarawa, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Ondo, Osun states et al, results of duly conducted elections were illegally canceled, especially in the PDP dominated areas to reduce the margin of victory in those states in favour of APC candidates. Is it not surprising to you that Lagos State with over six million voters can only return less than one million votes? This was the case in virtually all PDP dominated states where voters’ suppression was deployed as a major strategy by you and the APC government in active collaboration of some of your unscrupulous RECs and staffers.”

INEC National Commissioner (Legal), May Agbamuche-Mbu,  who received the protesters on behalf of the INEC chairman, assured that the commission intended to make the March 9 governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections free and fair.

“This country belongs to all of us and we must protect it with all our might. I believe that on Saturday, the elections will go on very well.  Our mantra in this election is that we want peace in our country. I supervised Rivers and Bayelsa states;  so, I know what it means to invest in that area, and the people of Rivers and Akwa Ibom know what they want,” she stated.    (The Sun)

 

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Presidential Poll Result: I’ll Not Mortgage The People’s Mandate – Atiku|RN

•Laments arrest of his son-in-law, financial director

 

Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

 

ThePeoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has said he will not mortgage the mandate of Nigerians as freely expressed in the February 23 presidential poll.

Atiku , in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, yesterday night , said the assurance is against the backdrop of the  arrest of his son in-law and finance director of his group of companies,  Alhaji Babalele Abdullahi, in Abuja,  on Saturday, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The statement read : “In a desperate move to have Atiku Abubakar concede and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at about 8.30am today (Saturday) invaded the Maitama residence of Babalele. They were however not given access into the house until his lawyers arrived.

“The EFCC agents numbering about two dozen came in 2 regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus (registration Abuja CS 522 RSH) and a hilux van.

“They came with a search warrant to search the house and office of Babalele and found nothing incriminating.

“They then proceeded to his office at Oakland Centre in Maitama and found nothing incriminating there. However, they took away some documents of landed property.

“Not done, the EFCC officials stormed his Wuse residence where they again found nothing incriminating after the search.

“Afterwards, Babalele was taken away to the EFCC office in Wuse to make a statement alongside Mr. Lawan Ayuba.

“It was gathered that the petition relied upon to invade the residence and office of Babalele was authored by a brother of the wife of President Buhari. As a law abiding citizen, Atiku Abubakar recognizes the constitutional role of the EFCC and indeed any other agency of the government to carry out investigations, but will not be cowed by any attempt to blackmail him into mortgaging his mandate.”    (The Sun)

 

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Kwara Central: I Was Rigged Out , Says Saraki |The Republican News

Fred Itua, Abuja 

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has revealed how he lost his third term re-election bid to the chamber.

According to the Kwara Central senator, inadequacies, including Card Readers not used in over 70 per cent of his polling units, multiple voting, over-voting and other discrepancies, aided his defeat. 

He stated that in spite of the reported inadequacies that attended the presidential and National Assembly elections in Kwara State, he wishes the candidates who emerged from the election the best of luck.

Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that while the election was generally peaceful, he still had issues with the outcome.

He added that the state chapter of his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), will take a position on the right response to these inadequacies.

“However, whatever the final outcome of the election, I wish the candidates that have emerged all the best in their attempts to serve our people. It is my prayers that the good people of Kwara state will always have the best from any government both at state and federal levels.

“As a product of a family and a political structure that is, from its foundation, devoted to the service and development of our state and its people, it is my wish that our people will always have a good deal at all times. The new development will even provide the people the opportunity to compare and contrast. After all, the people who have emerged from last Saturday’s election are not my enemies. They are fellow Kwarans.

“As we prepare for the March 9, governorship and House of Assembly elections, let me reiterate my position that the candidates of the PDP in the election represent the best materials for our dear state, Kwara.

“Therefore, I enjoin our people to come out en mass on election day and vote for them. I am going to work with our party leaders to further sell the PDP candidates to the public.

“I thank all Nigerians for their goodwill and to enjoin all of us that as we patiently await the outcome of the Presidential election, we pray for peace, unity and genuine development in our country. It is also our prayers that, at all times, the wish of the people would always prevail in the choice of the leadership and the electorate will always enjoy the benefit of good governance,” Saraki stated.   (The Sun)

 

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Presidential Election: PDP Kicks, Refuses To Sign Result Sheet |The Republican News

Uche-Secondus2

PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus

Friday Olokor, Abuja

 

The Peoples Democratic Party has said it would explore every option, including the legal process to ventilate its grievances on the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2019 election.

The party which refused to sign the result sheet said the announcement of Buhari who sought re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress by the Independent National Electoral Commission was an abnormality.

THE PUNCH reported that Buhari was declared winner by INEC having scored 15,191, 847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party who polled 11,262,978 votes.

But in his response, the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said that the difference in the valid votes and cancellation were insignificant to impact on the general outcome of the election.

According to him, all the observations raised by the PDP would be needed for the future, including the 2023 elections.

While rejecting the declaration of Buhari, an agent of the PDP and former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Osita Chidoka, told journalists in Abuja at the National Collation Centre on Wednesday morning that the results that were announced do not represent the valid votes of Nigerians.

He said, “The PDP does not accept the result as representing the valid votes of Nigerians. We have made three issues: first, after all the investment in technology, we expected that INEC, after spending N27 billion in this year’s budget alone for technology, would have for the purpose of transparency, not just for law, projected to us the result of what the card reader that they used displayed about the people that went through the card reader verification. That singular act has put a dent on the image of the election.

“The second one is the issue we raised about the number of registered vis-à-vis what the chairman now calls collated voters, which means that 1.6 million people are missing in the voter register. We think that issue is substantial enough to require a resolution.

“We also believed that the difference between the accredited voters and the votes cast which came to about 750,000 is an issue to be looked at.

Finally, we believed that the cancellations that took place in the election impacting 2.7 million voters required to be looked into seriously.

“So, in our view, this election required to be reviewed, looked at again and possibly, we have a rerun. More importantly, we think that INEC should have looked consciously to the use of the card reader, the absence of card reader is a major violation in the elections, it renders that election null and void, that’s what the chairman promised us.

“So, for us in the PDP, we believe that this is a new low in Nigeria’s electoral history. Since 2015, we believe that Nigeria would have been making progress in the election, but for the violence. The issues that have arisen in this election, and lack of transparency that we saw in the election did not increase, neither did it improve the belief of Nigerians in the electoral process.

“However, the PDP remains a very lawful party, we believe in the law, we believe in the constitution of Nigeria, we are committed democrats. The PDP is a party that entrenched democracy in Nigeria, the PDP is the party that made it possible for Nigeria to enjoy the fruit and dividends of democracy.

“We will continue to support democracy in Nigeria, we will continue to promote democracy in Nigeria. But we have a good message for Nigerians, we want them to remain peaceful, we will explore all our options, including the belief that the legal process in Nigeria is one of the ways to resolve issues.”  (Punch)

 

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Second Term: Humbling, I Thank God, Nigerians – Buhari |The Republican News

Buhari-security-statement
                                  President Muhammadu Buhari

John Ameh

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to his re-election for a second term of four years, saying that he thanks God and Nigerians for the victory.

He made an acceptance speech at his presidential campaign headquarters in Abuja shortly after the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, declared him as the winner.

Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who scored 11,262,978.

The President also stated that his administration would continue to fight corruption, insecurity and improve on the economy.

“The new Administration will intensify its efforts in Security, Restructuring the Economy and Fighting Corruption. We have laid down the foundation and we are committed to seeing matters to the end. We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out”, he told jubilant supporters.

His speech read, “First and foremost, I give thanks to Almighty God Who has spared our lives to witness another victory for Nigerian democracy and victory for our party APC.

“I thank the millions of Nigerians who voted to re-elect me as your president for the next four years. I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful to you for judging me worthy of continuing to serve you and for your peaceful conduct.

“In particular, I would like to thank Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for his masterful leadership as Co-chair of the Campaign Council. I would like to also thank the Party Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, the Director General of the Campaign Council Rotimi Amaechi, all members of the Presidential Campaign Council and other various Support Groups.

“My grateful thanks to all those who contributed to the logistical expenses of the campaign in such a vast country like Nigeria.

“I also thank the millions of volunteers, self-appointed overseers, canvassers, agents, escorts and sentries who sacrificed so much of their time and resources to ensure the success of these elections. I do not have the words adequate to thank them.

“Although Saturday’s elections were relatively peaceful, troublemakers in a handful of states attempted to disrupt an otherwise orderly process. Security agencies will bring to justice all those arrested in the process.

“I am very sad at the grievous loss of lives during these elections. Security agencies will step up their efforts to protect voters in the forthcoming State elections.

“I would like to commend our security agencies, as severely overstretched as they are, for handling the difficult task of securing the country during the election period.

“I will like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition. Victory is enough reward for your efforts.

“We give thanks also to our Domestic and International observers for contributing to the success of our elections and for their interest in our country and our developing democracy.

“The new Administration will intensify its efforts in Security, Restructuring the Economy and Fighting Corruption. We have laid down the foundation and we are committed to seeing matters to the end. We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out.

“I thank you for your support and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” (Punch)

 

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