The Labour Party Coalition for True Democracy, has demanded withholding the certificate of return for Enugu governorship election and asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a rerun election in the state especially in areas where there were irregularities.
The group at a press conference in Abuja over the weekend, alleged electoral malpractices in places such as Nkanu East LGA and Nkanu East LGA where it claimed the total number of votes recorded did not tally with that of the accredited voters.
The LP National Chairman, Julius Abure, while speaking virtually at the event said the 2023 general election was a shadow of itself.
He said: “All the gains recorded in recent times, all the electoral evolution, reforms and gains we have accumulated from the conceding of defeat by former president Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari have all been eroded by the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
“In Abia and Enugu, those are state that we won clearly. We won Enugu State clearly. We were already leading in Enugu with 15,000 votes before the Governor attempted to use his local government to upturn the results. The returning officer has been complaining and confessing that she was coerced to declare that result. Same would have taken place in Abia if not for the resistant of the returning officer.
“We won the Senate in the state even after introducing the younger brother of our former candidate that was assassinated. So where did they get the results from?
“Unfortunately, what we see in Nigeria today can be likened to what what you see in animal kingdom where somebody will carry a gun and say if you are not voting for PDP or APC don’t come and vote. Or where people are voting and when they see that they are losing, the unleash chaos. And the security men on duty will look the other way. That can only happen in an animal kingdom; it can happen in a sane society.
“This is the last time that we will get to the field to vote and they will use gun and intimidation on us. In any other election, we will be ready. I am saying it, that going forward, we will be ready for them,” he said.
Ken Asogwa, president of the Coalition said: “According to the figures gleaned from the INEC IREV, Nkanu East LGA recorded a total number of 7,190 accredited voters on the election day. However, when votes were declared, the PDP was allocated a total number of 30,350 votes while a total number of 1,855 was allocated to the Labour Party. In the same vein, other political parties were allocated fringe numbers in like manner.
“We then ask: how could INEC have turned out a total of 33,975 votes in Nkanu East LGA that had only about 7,000 accredited voters? The ready answer is that the Electoral Act was literally thrown under the bus by writing results without recourse to the BVAS.
“Also, in Udenu LGA, the result of the state constituency election has not been declared because there was violence in 13 polling units with a cumulative number of 7,709 potential voters with PVCs collected. In this case, INEC is rightly of the view that elections in those polling units will have to be conducted before a return can be made, ostensibly because the number of voters in those polling units will affect the final outcome of the result if the voters are allowed to vote.
“Similarly, in Igbo-Eze South LGA, a similar situation played out where the state constituency election result is yet to be declared because of outbreak of violence in about 3 polling units with a total number of 3,326 persons with PVCs collected.
“Similar situation is rife in Nkanu West LGA, Nsukka LGA, Uzo-Uwani LGA, Igboeze North LGA, Igbo-Etiti LGA and a host of other LGAs where elections did not hold in several polling units.
Asogwa noted that there were a total of 21,156 persons with PVCs yet to cast their votes across the state.
“This number is far huge enough to affect the final outcome of the result as declared. S. 51 (2), (3) and (4) of the Electoral Act envisage that a rerun be conducted in such circumstances.
“Recall that in the final result as declared by the INEC, the candidate of the PDP purportedly polled a total number of 160,895 votes while the candidate of the Labour Party polled a total of 157,552 votes. In other words, the candidate of the PDP purportedly won by 3,343 votes.
“It is therefore curious how a return was hurriedly made on the gubernatorial election when the total number of polling units where elections were yet to hold far outnumber the margin with which the candidate of the PDP was returned.
“Recall that in Kebbi and Adamawa states where a similar scenerio is in place, INEC did the right thing by declaring the election inconclusive. Why then is the case of Enugu different? Is it a case of two sets of laws for one kind of situation?” he added.
Again, on the electoral heist that took place in Nkanu East LGA, I wish to draw the attention of ladies and gentlemen here that the Electoral Act in S. 51 (2) provides that where there is a proven case of over-voting in any polling unit, the verdict by the returning officer should be an outright cancellation while a fresh election is ordered.
“We appeal to Nigerians to help us understand where the INEC in Abuja drew the power that enabled them to reduce some votes in the over-voting situation as witnessed in Nkanu East LGA.
“Our Party, the Labour Party, has written to INEC to review the Enugu situation in line with the Electoral Act which allows for 7 days window for application to the INEC for a review of situatios of this nature.
“It is our hope that Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu seizes the opportunity that the Enugu situation presents to clean up the already battered image of the Commission under his watch.
“Prof. Yakubu is to do this by withholding the certificate of return for Enugu governorship election and ordering a runoff and a rerun, as the case may be, in the affected polling units and LGAs.
“While hoping that INEC does the right thing by restoring the mandate of the Enugu people freely given to the Labour Party, and by extension, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, on 18th March, 2023, we continue to urge our teeming supporters to continue to toe the path of peace while the institutions are being engaged,” he added.