The candidate lambasts INEC over poor conduct of poll.
The Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, candidate in the October 12 Delta Central Senatorial District election, Ede Dafinone, said he would no longer challenge the result of the poll at the Election Petition Tribunal.
He, however, insisted that the poll was characterised by ballot box snatching; intimidation of voters by thugs assisted by supposed men and officers of the Nigerian Army; thumb-printing of ballot papers; and writing of fictitious results which were confirmed and subsequently announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to the result announced by INEC, Emmanuel Aguarivwodo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, won the election.
In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Dafinone said the bad experience of Delta Central’s violent election rigging spree confirmed the absence of a truly independent INEC able to conduct free and fair elections, secured by neutral security agencies, and manned by youth corps members who were skilled and trained.He added that this portended a clear and imminent danger for the nation’s democracy.
Stating that November 1 would be the last working day within the 21 days required by extant laws for filing petitions at Election Pettition Tribunal, the DPP candidate said it would be of no benefit to the party then if its prayer to cancel the results of the election was granted at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
He stated that his legal advisers had examined the options available and were of the view that where the process ran to its maximum time limits and with success at the Appeal Court, a re-run election would be called on or before 31 October, 2014.
He noted that in light of this, some problems may arise such as the winner of this “re-run” election, having contested in two elections by this time, serving as a Senator for only seven months.
He said that after wide consultations and taking due recognisance of differing views, especially amongst the leadership of the DPP, he was of the view that an eventual ruling in favour of his party at the Court of Appeal may, in view of the time constraints in the Electoral Act, be too late for a re-run election to be feasible.
Mr. Dafinone further noted that if the tribunal or Court of Appeal ruled early enough to make re-run legally feasible, then the potential time to serve in the Senate would be significantly less than one year, with a substantial part of the period devoted to the politics of the 2015 elections.
He argued that an election petition, being a legal tussle, could go either way. He noted that, going by past experiences, there were no guarantees that the tribunal would eventually rule in his favour.
“I will therefore not be proceeding to the Election Petitions Tribunal and believe instead that we would best serve the interest of the electorate of the Delta Central Senatorial district and Nigeria by taking our case to the court of public opinion for Nigerians to judge for themselves whether INEC conducted a free and fair election in the Delta Central Senatorial District on the 12th October, 2013,” Mr. Dafinone said.
“This I hope would ensure that future elections do not follow the same trend as our experience in the Delta Central by-election.”