Last week, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted nine state House of Assembly and six senatorial by-elections across 11 states.
The senatorial by-elections were conducted in Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Cross River North, Imo North, Lagos East, and Plateau South senatorial districts.
The state assembly elections were conducted in Bauchi, Enugu, Kogi, Borno, Cross Rivers, Katsina, Zamfara, and Lagos states.
Of the six senatorial by-elections, four were conducted to occupy legislative seats that became vacant due to the death of their former occupants. These are Cross River North, Imo North, Lagos East, and Plateau south.
The remaining two senatorial by-elections were for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West, represented by Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo respectively before they were elected as governor and deputy governor of the state respectively.
The by-elections were carried out amidst conflicting court orders that sacked candidates of the PDP in the Cross River North senatorial district and candidates of the APC Imo North senatorial district.
INEC had suspended the polls, earlier scheduled to hold in October, following the violence in many parts of the country, resulting from the #EndSARS protests against police brutality. The by-elections were rescheduled for December 5.
Also, amid the growing cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 70,000 COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), INEC went ahead with the exercise across 5,856 polling units spread across 34 local government areas in the states, with over three million voters registered for the polls.
The electoral umpire assured of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols among voters, and observers, as well as the conduct of hitch-free elections. The protocols were, however, largely ignored during the elections.
According to the election observer group, YIAGA Africa, the by-elections were marred by voter apathy and inducement, violence, and political dominance of the two major political parties APC and PDP.
For instance, the APC won seven of the 11 seats in Lagos, Imo, Kogi, Plateau, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, while the main opposition PDP won in Bayelsa, Enugu, Zamfara, and Cross Rivers states in the federal and state legislative bye-elections.
PREMIUM TIMES examines the by-elections in the 11 states.
About eight political parties contested in the by-elections in Kosofe constituency II of the State House of Assembly elections, while 12 political parties jostled for the Lagos East senatorial polls. The ruling APC won both by-elections.
The elections were held following the demise of Bayo Oshinowo and Tunde Braimoh, who represented Lagos East and Kosofe II in the Senate and the state assembly respectively.
About 1,261,673 voters were registered for the Lagos East senatorial bye-election, while the state constituent election had about 280,363 registered voters spread across the six registration areas (wards) located in Ketu-Alapere, Ikosi/Ketu, Isheri/Olowo-Ora, Agboyi I, Agboyi II and Odo-Ogun/Ajegunle.
For the senatorial by-election, the APC candidate, Tokunbo Abiru, won with 89,204 votes, defeating his main challenger from the PDP, Babatunde Gbadamosi, who scored 11,257 votes.
Femi Saheed of the APC also won the polls with 12,494 votes to beat his closest rival, Sikiru Alebiosu of the PDP, who got 2,068 votes, in the Kosofe 2 State House of Assembly by-election.
However, a PREMIUM TIMES analysis, showed that only about nine per cent of the voters across the five divisions of the Lagos East (Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Kosofe, Somolu and Ikorodu), consisting of 71 wards and 1,928 polling units, showed up to vote in the senatorial by-election.
Of the 1,261,673 total registered voters in the district, 104,921 were accredited, according to INEC, while 104,405 votes were cast. A total of 102, 336, votes were valid, while 2,069 votes were rejected.
INEC conducted the Bauchi State Dass House of Assembly by-election following the death of its former occupant, Musa Baraza, then a member of the APC.
Bala Lukshi of the APC was declared the winner after he polled 12,299 votes, defeating Lawal Wundi of the PDP who scored 11,062 votes.
Of the 58,112 total registered voters across the 10 wards in the area, as announced by INEC, the election had a total 42.24 per cent voter turnout. While 24,546 votes were accredited, 24,376 votes were cast, and 24,020 votes were valid, 356 votes were rejected.
The Bayelsa by-elections were conducted in the senatorial districts for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West, after their former occupants Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were elected as governor and deputy governor of the state respectively.
For the Bayelsa Central election, Moses Cleopas of the PDP was declared winner, polling 110,019 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Abel Efemowei of the APC, who scored 18,947 votes. Apart from the two dominant parties, nine other political parties participated in the election.
The election had about 34.16 per cent voter turnout. Of the 417,408 registered voters, 142,590 voters were accredited. There were 139,910 valid votes and 1,482 rejected votes out of the 141,392 total votes cast.
The immediate past governor, Seriake Dickson, won the Bayelsa West election to defeat the APC candidate, Peremobowei Ebebi. Mr Dickson polled 115,257 votes while Mr Ebebi scored 17,500. Eleven political parties participated in the election.
The election witnessed about 58.60 per cent voter turnout of the 234,609 registered voters, with 137,490 voters accredited, while 133,503 valid votes were cast.
Also, about three policemen deployed for the elections in the state tragically drowned.
In Enugu State, INEC conducted the state House of Assembly by-election for the Isi-Uzo state constituency, following the death of its former occupant, Chijioke Ugwueze.
About nine political parties, including three female candidates, contested the polls, with a total of 69,626 registered voters in the 11 wards, across 118 polling units.
A female candidate, Amaka Ugwueze of the PDP, won the election, defeating her closest rival, Ejiofor Okwor of the APC.
According to INEC, each of the remaining seven political parties that contested in the by-election scored less than 70 votes each.
The by-election had 13.36 voter turnout of the 72,289 total number of registered voters, with 13,598 total valid votes and 391 rejected votes; while a total of 13,988 votes were cast.
INEC conducted two by-elections in Cross River. One was the Cross River North senatorial district by-election and the other was that of Obudu constituency. Both elections had nine and six candidates that contested in the elections respectively.
The elections were held following the deaths of Rose Oko and Stephen Ukpukpen who represented Cross River North and Obudu in the senate and the state assembly respectively.
For the senatorial by-election in Cross River North, INEC declared the PDP candidate, Stephen Odey, the winner despite two conflicting court orders: one confirmed Mr Odey as the PDP candidate and another court affirmed an aspirant, Jarigbe Jarigbe, as the true candidate of the PDP.
Before the election, a Federal High Court in Cross River presided over by Justice S.A. Amobeda, affirmed Mr Odey as the candidate of the PDP for the by-election.
Justice Amobeda, who gave the order, also directed INEC to publish the name of Mr Odey as the duly nominated candidate of the PDP to contest the election.
On the same day, Justice Binta Mohammed of the FCT High Court declared Mr Jarigbe as the duly elected candidate of the PDP.
But INEC while announcing the result said Mr Odey scored 129,207 votes to defeat nine candidates including Joe Agi of the APC who scored 19,165 votes.
The election as announced by INEC had about 19.36 per cent voter turnout of the 72,289 registered voters. While 13,995 voters were accredited, 13,597 votes were valid, 391 votes rejected, and 13,988 votes were cast.
For the Imo North senatorial by-election, INEC declared the APC winner without returning any candidate for the election. The party won five out of the six local government areas in the senatorial district, defeating the PDP who won in one LGA.
The Returning Officer, Hakeem Adikum, announced that APC scored 36,811 votes, while Emmanuel Okewulonu of the PDP came second with 31,903 votes.
The REC explained that INEC was unable to return a candidate from APC as the winner of the election because of the several court orders for and against Ifeanyi Araraume, whose name was contained in the final list of candidates produced by INEC.
Apart from the controversies, the elections were also marred by a low voter turnout with 19.36 per cent of the 72,289 registered voters taking part. The total vote cast was 13,985, while 13,995 votes were accredited. A total of 13,597 votes were valid, and 391 votes were rejected.
INEC conducted the state by-election for the Bakura constituent State House of Assembly, following the death of Tukur Jekada who represented the LGA.
The by-election was declared inconclusive following violence, over-voting, and ballot box snatching that marred the electoral process.
INEC later fixed December 8 for the conclusion of the polls in 14 polling units where elections were earlier cancelled.
The commission eventually declared Ibrahim Tukur of the PDP winner of the election with 23,874 votes to defeat his close challenger, Bello Dankande, APC who scored 16,546 votes.
The election saw an average voter turnout of 47.4 per cent of the 91,480 total registered voters. About 40,809 total votes were cast, 40,566 votes were valid, and 243 votes were rejected from the total 43,034 accredited voters.
The Plateau South senatorial district by-election was conducted following the death of its former occupant, Ignatius Longjan, who died in February.
INEC announced the APC candidate, Nora Daduut, the winner with 83,151 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, George Daika, who got 70,838 votes.
The election was marred by voter apathy with about 23.85 per cent of the 667,424 registered voters taking part. While 159,191 voters were accredited, about 2,144 votes were rejected – with a total vote cast of 157,803, and valid 155,659 votes.
The Kogi State Ibaji State House of Assembly by-election was conducted following the death of John Abah, with a total of eight political parties battling at the polls.
The APC candidate, Egbunu Atule, won the election with 8,515 votes to defeat Daniel Enefola of the PDP who scored 4,565 votes.
The election also saw a low voter turnout of 19.73 per cent, from the 76,575 total registered voters for the polls. However, of the 15,111 accredited voters, on election day, a total 14,870 votes were cast, while 14,564 votes were valid and 306 votes were rejected.
The APC candidate, Ibrahim Aminu, won the Bakori LGA State House of Assembly with 20,445 votes to defeat his closest rival, Aminu Magaji of the PDP by 11,356 votes.
The election conducted to replace Abdurazak Tsiga, the former occupant who died earlier this year. A total number of 13 political parties took part.
Displeased with the results, the PDP state chairperson, Salisu Majigiri, demanded the outright cancellation of the results of six wards in the elections.
The election also witnessed low turnout of voters with 27.58 per cent of the 123,837 registered voters taking part. While 34,150 voters were accredited, 33,778 votes were cast out of which 32,821 votes were valid and 957 votes were rejected.
In Borno, despite being plagued by Boko Haram, the elections were conducted peacefully in two State House of Assembly by-elections in Bayo and Nganzai, with a total of seven political parties contesting at the polls
The elections were carried out following the deaths of two lawmakers, Umar Audi, and Wakil Lawan.
For the Bayo state constituency, the APC candidate, Maina Maigari, won the election with 25,482 votes, defeating Muhammed Danjuma of the PDP who had 2,249 votes.
Of the 47,811 registered voters, according to INEC, the election had about 39.45 per cent voter turnout. While 18,862 voters were accredited, valid votes were 17,780, rejected votes were 423, and votes cast were 18,203.
In the Nganzai State House of Assembly by-election, the APC candidate, Mohammed Gajiram, won with 8,885 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Saleh Mohammed, who got 240 votes.
The election had about 27.32 per cent voter turnout. Of the 35,002 registered voters, 9,563 voters were accredited. A total of 9,426 votes were cast including 9,335 valid votes and 92 rejected votes.
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