Bayelsa: Sylva says INEC erred, demands Southern Ijaw election results

Former Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva.

The All Progressives Congress candidate in the December 5 Bayelsa State governorship election, Timipre Sylva, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to announce the results from the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and declare a winner in the elections.

After collating election results in seven local government areas, INEC cancelled the election in Southern Ijaw LGA on Monday, December 7, thereby declaring the election inconclusive.

The reasons given by the electoral body for the cancellation were violence, abduction of electoral officials and snatching of election materials.

The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate and incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson, leads from the results of so far collated and announced.

INEC has fixed Saturday, December 19, for a supplementary election in Southern Ijaw LGA.

But Mr. Sylva said while violence occurred in Southern Ijaw LGA, the commission erred in scheduling fresh polls.

In a petition to INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Mr. Sylva said the commission lacked the powers to cancel “already concluded or on-going election”.

“It is important to note that under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), there is no power either, express or implied that is vested on the Resident Electoral Commissioner, your commission or any staff whatsoever to cancel election that has commenced or concluded, in any manner as was done in Bayelsa state,” Mr. Sylva wrote in the petition dated December 8.

“The Commission’s power, in the above is limited only to the postponement of election that has not commenced,” he said.

“We consider the action of cancelling results of an election while collation is on-going as a dangerous precedent, usurping of the functions of the Tribunals established by the Constitution illegal and reminiscent of the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and if allowed stand will not only expose your Commission to endless and avoidable litigations and would become a ready tool in the hands of officials of your Commission the power to truncate the will of the people,” he argued.

The APC candidate, however, requested that should the commission feel “strongly that it has the powers to cancel already concluded or on-going elections”, it should also cancel the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama Local Government Areas, Wards 4 and 5 of Yenagoa and Ward 8,9 and 10 of Nembe Local Government Areas.

Mr. Sylva said that, “the elections in Ekeremor, Sagbama Local Government Areas, Wards 4 and 5 of Yenagoa and Ward 8, 9 and 10 of Nembe Local Government Areas were marred by massive violence, abduction of both electoral officials and materials, massive thumb printing and rigging but that despite our oral and written protests, your commission accepted the results at units, wards, local government area and state collation centres at the areas highlighted above”.

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