Candidates who lost Saturday’s governorship election and their supporters on Tuesday protested the outcome of the poll and vowed to challenge the results in court.
There were protests by the Peoples Democratic Party supporters in Ogun and Nasarawa states just as the All Progressives Congress in Kano State gave the Independent National Electoral Commission seven days to declare the governorship election in the state inconclusive.
In the results of the governorship election declared so far by INEC, the APC has won 15 states, the PDP won eight, while the New Nigeria Peoples Party emerged victorious in Kano State.
A protest by the PDP members in Ogun State turned violent when an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps fired a gunshot into the air to disperse protesters, who stormed the INEC office in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Scores of the PDP members led by the party’s candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, had marched to the INEC office, where they rejected the result of the election, which Adebutu lost to the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, who is the APC candidate.
Pandemonium however broke out when security operatives prevented the party members from entering the premises. During the confusion, an NSCDC official fired a gunshot in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
The angry protesters pursued and pelted him with stones as he ran away when they angrily advanced towards him.
Some security personnel including officials of the Department of State Services were injured during the melee.
The protesters, who were singing anti-INEC songs, were bearing placards with inscriptions such as “INEC should save our democracy”, “INEC betrayed the people of Ogun”, “Electoral fraud will not stand”, INEC should respect people’s wish”, “INEC should stop being biased” and “Ogun election was inconclusive, INEC correct yourself”, among others.
But, the protesters were denied access to the INEC office by heavily armed security operatives.
Speaking at the entrance of the office, Adebutu said he was at the commission to submit a petition.
He insisted that the protesters would not leave the place until officials of the electoral commission attended to them.
Adebutu said the party had submitted several protest letters to the commission demanding the review of the results of Saturday’s election and re-run in polling units, where elections were either cancelled or disrupted.
He said that it was regrettable that security agencies were being used against the wish of the people, warning that the development could degenerate into another #Endsars protest.
Adebutu said, “We are here to protest, but unfortunately we have been confronted by security men, shooting sporadically into the air, in the hope that they would disperse us, but we are resolute, we are going to stay here until we are addressed by officials of INEC.
“We contend that the measures by which other states have been treated and they are allowed to have rerun should apply to Ogun State.’’
He noted that the governorship elections in Adamawa and Kebbi states were declared inconclusive, adding that the same should apply to Ogun State.
Adebutu later held a closed-door meeting with some INEC officials. Emerging from the meeting, Adebutu urged his supporters to remain law-abiding.
In Nasarawa State, where the state Governor, Abdullahi Sule of the APC defeated the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu and others, no fewer than 500 women from 13 local government areas of the state, who were dressed in black clothes, stormed Lafia, the state capital to demand the cancellation of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
The state Women Leader of the PDP, Stella Oboshi, led women from the party and other political parties on a peaceful protest, demanding the cancellation of the poll.
She explained that the reason for the protest was because INEC went ahead to announce a winner of the governorship election when there was contention in the results that emanated from Gayam and Ciroma electoral wards in the state capital.
Oboshi said, “What we are doing today is a peaceful protest and it is allowed in a democracy. The reason for our protest is that in Nasarawa State, two electoral wards cannot hold the whole state to ransom.
“The governorship election and that of the House of Assembly were done the same day, the same time and with the same election materials. But the governorship election was announced, and that of the House of Assembly has not been announced up till this moment because it was declared inconclusive.
“If Gayam and Ciroma electoral wards results from Lafia LGA were included in the results that INEC announced for the governorship election but the Assembly elections were inconclusive in the same wards, then INEC should also declare the governorship election inconclusive so that we can start from afresh.”
She appealed to supporters of the PDP and other opposition political parties in the state to remain calm, while expressing optimism that INEC would do the needful by declaring the already announced governorship election inconclusive.
The Kano State APC also rejected the result.
It insisted that INEC should have declared the exercise inconclusive.
INEC on Monday morning, declared Abba Kabiru Yusuf, of the NNPP, winner of the state governorship election.
He defeated the APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna.
The Chairman of the APC in the state, Abdullahi Abba, at a press conference on Tuesday rejected the result.
Represented by the party’s legal adviser, Abdul Adamu Fagge, the APC insisted that the election should be declared inconclusive pointing out that the cancelled votes were more than the margin between the first and the second parties.
Also, the party drew the attention of INEC to the cancellation of 16 House of Assembly elections in the state, citing violence, as the reason, while the same votes were considered in collating the governorship election.
To this extent, the party expressed dismay over the declaration, emphasizing that the two elections were held on the same day, same time, and at the same place and under the same circumstances.
The party gave INEC a seven-day ultimatum to declare the result inconclusive.
On his part, the APC governorship candidate in Plateau State, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, vowed to challenge the result of the election, which he lost to the PDP candidate, Caleb Mutfwang.
Yilwatda, who addressed his supporters in Jos on Tuesday, said, ‘’We were sincere in our hearts. We were sincere in our votes. We didn’t rig anywhere. The two local government areas gave us a difference of 200,000 and we knew it was rigged. There were reported cases of low voter turnout and yet, the votes increased by over 100 per cent. How can low voter turnout turn into high voter turnout? We will challenge the outcome in court.
But the PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, John Akans, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the APC candidate was desperate.
The rejection of the election results also dominated discussions in the Kaduna State chapter of the PDP on Tuesday.
The party rejected the declaration of the APC candidate, Senator Uba Sani as governor-elect of Kaduna State.
The PUNCH reported that the state INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Lawal Suleiman Bilbis, from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, announced that the Sani polled 730,002 votes while his closest rival, Isah Ashiru of the PDP scored 719,196 votes.
But addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Tuesday, the state chairman of the PDP, Felix Hyet, described the APC victory as “daylight robbery.”
He alleged that INEC was complicit in denying the people of the state what they voted for, and was inconsistent in declaring the results.
He noted, “You will please recall my press conference yesterday, 20th March 2023 during which I demanded the use of authentic results from the INEC Server (IReV) as the only accepted results for declaration of the governorship election in our state.
“This was because the lack of transparency from INEC officials was glaring and justice will not be done. Our fears were confirmed last night when the state Returning Officer, Prof. Lawal Bilbis, used the questionable results to declare Sen. Uba Sani of the APC was elected with 730,002 votes against 719,196 votes allocated to our candidate, Rt. Hon Mohamed Isah Ashiru of the PDP.
“The PDP rejects this result and the declaration of Sen. Uba Sani as the winner of the governorship elections of 18/03/2023 in our dear Kaduna State.’’
The chairman added that the party would take legal action on the matter under the law.
When asked if the party would protest the just concluded polls, Hyet, a former aviation minister, ruled out a protest, saying, “We have rejected the result and we would take all measures that are lawful to reclaim the mandate of the people of Kaduna State.’’
Speaking further, he stated, “The system of collection of results was very untidy and unreliable. Figures kept on being changed. At that time we said people had gone to Lere again and to Kudan. To ascertain what? Another result or what? Therefore, whatever we have seen and whatever that has been declared, we feel it is allocated.’’
“This is because since INEC has a server, that result has gone into that server and this server is under INEC control and custody. There is no reason why INEC will not make use of the authentic result in its server to avoid this broad day robbery that has been meted out to the people of Kaduna State,” he added.
In the meantime, the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the NNPP has expressed dissatisfaction with the governorship election results announced by the electoral commission, saying it did not reflect the wishes of the Akwa Ibom people.
The party said what INEC announced on Sunday was ‘’a purchased election result by the PDP in the state.’’
A statement by the spokesperson for Senator John Udoedeghe’s campaign organisation, Mr Solomon Johnny, however, did not indicate whether the party would challenge the results in court or not.
The statement read in part “We wish to state categorically that the results of the governorship election announced by INEC yesterday, Sunday, March 19, 2023, do not reflect the true wishes of the Akwa Ibom people.
“Rather, what INEC announced was the results of a purchased election that has no bearing with the true desires of our people.’’
The Inter-Party Advisory Council in Enugu State, on Tuesday, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately release the results of the March 18 governorship poll in the state.
The Chairman of IPAC in the state, Chief Edwin Alor, told journalists that INEC had no powers under the law to review collated results.
It would be recalled that INEC on March 20 suspended further collation of results in two local government areas of the state – Nkanu East and Nsukka – over allegations of over-voting and other electoral malpractices.
Alor urged the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state and the State Returning Officer to, as a matter of urgency, announce the result of the election without delay and declare the winner with immediate effect.
He said, “We see no good reason why the announcement of the final results and declaration of the winner in the Enugu State governorship election, which is adjudged comparatively free, fair and credible, should be placed on hold.”
CLO advises INEC
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Organisation has tasked INEC to immediately resolve the “logjam” encountered in the election.
The Chairman of CLO South-East Zone, Mr Aloysius Attah, told newsmen in Enugu that INEC must act fast and save the state from an avoidable crisis.
Attah cautioned INEC’s State Returning Officer, Resident Electoral Commissioner and other actors in the commission not to be pressured to thwart the people’s will.
“Brazenly subverting the people’s will and resorting to the provocative slogan “If not satisfied, go to court” will not be accepted anymore in Enugu State and henceforth in the entire South-East,” he said.
The chairman noted that the people deserved the kind of a leader they gave their consent to through the democratic process of voting and “no more shall they be deprived of this their guaranteed democratic rights.’’