Late hour judicial pronouncements, violence and low voter turnout are likely factors that could mar parts of the Senatorial and State House of Assembly Bye-elections, held in 11 states, a pre-election survey finding has shown.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is, on Saturday, conducting six federal and nine constituent bye-elections in 11 states.
The commission had suspended polls scheduled to hold in October following the violence in many parts of the country, resulting from the #EndSARS protest against police brutality.
Six of the by-elections are to fill senatorial seats that became vacant due to the death of their former occupants and the election of Douye Diri, who represented Bayelsa Central, as Bayelsa State governor.
The senatorial bye-elections are to be conducted in Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Cross River North, Imo North, Lagos East and Plateau South senatorial districts.
According to INEC’s data, about four million registered voters are expected to participate in the polls across 5,856 polling units spread across 34 Local Government Areas in eleven states.
Late Hour judicial pronouncements
The election observer and monitoring group, said the late hour judicial pronouncements that sacked the All Progressive Congress APC, candidate, Frank Ibezim, for the Imo state North senatorial district, could confuse the election process.
A federal high court in Abuja had, on Friday, disqualified Mr Ibezim as the candidate of the APC senatorial candidate for the bye-elections in Imo state.
Mr Ibezim had challenged the declaration of the federal high court in Imo, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to replace his name with that of an aspirant Ifeanyi Ararume.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who gave the order, said the affidavit and documents submitted by Mr Ibezim were falsified and uncertified photocopies of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate substituted to INEC, The Cable newspapers reported.
Justice Ekwo also directed INEC to remove Mr Ibezim’s name from the list of candidates for the bye-election.
“Late Hour judicial pronouncements: There’s a cloud of uncertainty and confusion occasioned by late hour judicial pronouncements on pre-election cases challenging the eligibility of candidates and credibility of primaries conducted by some parties in some states,” YIAGA said.
“For instance, it remains unclear who the candidate of the APC in the Imo North senatorial district, following the Court of Appeal ruling on December 4, 2020, disqualifying the candidate submitted to INEC,” it added.
Low Voter turnout
The election monitoring think-tank also in its findings projected a low voter turnout the election process, “owing to the diminishing public interest in the process and low voter-education by INEC.
“Yiaga Africa projects low voter turnout owing to diminishing public interest in the process and low voter-education, voter mobilization, and publicity by INEC, political parties, and electoral stakeholders in the respective states.
Based on the findings, the group urged “INEC to ensure strict compliance and uniformity in the application of the electoral law and guidelines. Also, effective logistics management inspires trust in INEC; as such, INEC should ensure early deployment of personnel and materials and strengthen oversight/supervision on election day.
“Yiaga Africa calls on all contesting political parties to abide by the rules governing the conduct of elections and admonish their supporters to refrain from acts that could jeopardize the process or destabilize public peace.
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