…draws parallel between electoral mishap in Edo, Adamawa
By Ikhili Ebalu, Benin City
After a review of the circumstances surrounding the conduct of the supplementary governorship election in Adamawa State, I commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for taking decisive steps to ensure that the right thing was done in Adamawa State, where a Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) usurped the powers of the Chief Returning Officer to unilaterally declare a winner when collation had not been concluded.
This been the position of the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Edo State Chapter, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi who in a statement issued in Benin City, copies of which was made available to newsmen said, “the bold and courageous stance by INEC is the right step in upholding the tenets of democracy and reinstating the Commission’s commitment to promoting a fair and healthy democratic process, raising hope that the country is on a path of progress in its democratic journey.
“The disgraceful conduct of the erring official, Mr. Hudu Yunusa-Ari, draws parallel to a similar occurrence that marred the successful conduct of the PDP congresses and primary elections to produce candidates for the just-concluded National Assembly elections in Edo State, where Dr. Johnson Alaibo Sinkiem, then INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the State, usurped the powers of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), the body empowered by law to conduct congresses and primaries.
“Sinkiem, who is now the INEC REC in Rivers State is said to have ‘in flagrant violation of the electoral laws, arrogated to himself the powers of the returning officer and party’s National Working Committee in respect of the primaries he conducted and accordingly forged the PDP primary election results.’
“The forged primary election results of the PDP primaries are what enabled the warring aspirants to file suits in the Abuja and Benin Divisions of the Federal High Court before the cases were finally put to rest by the Supreme Court which maintained that only the National Working Committee (NWC) of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.”
The Edo PDP State Chairman in his optimism said, “it is however gratifying to know that the then-dissident INEC REC in Edo State currently faces charges of alleged forgery and conspiracy in Edo State Police Command and we urge INEC to take a cue from this and follow up with the security agencies and other relevant authorities to ensure that the same decisive steps taken in Adamawa State is also taken so that the REC is duly prosecuted.
“His actions could have triggered a constitutional crisis, and it is imperative to ensure that such flagrant disregard for due process and established electoral laws do not reoccur.”
Dr. Tony Aziegbemi however added, “we, once more, express our deepest appreciation to INEC for standing with the people and defending the sanctity of our democracy.
“The Commission’s actions in Adamawa State are beacons of hope for our nation’s electoral process, and we hope that the electoral body will continue to display such courage, integrity and impartiality in the discharge of its mandate.”