—-CivicHive: Declaring A A. Sule winner ‘shocking’
A former Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, SAN, and eleven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) are counsels to Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Nasarawa State, Hon. Emmanuel David Ombugadu, at the governorship elections petitions tribunal.
Ombugadu, who was in the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2019, is challenging the declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and incumbent governor, Audu Alhaji Sule, as winner of the March 18 election.
Also part of Ombugadu’s legal team are 35 other senior lawyers.
Shortly before declaring Sule winner, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the APC candidate polled 347,209 votes against the 283,016 votes it said Ombugadu polled.
The Commission’s declaration sparked state-wide protests. For several days, half-naked women and youth groups clad in black clothes besieged INEC headquarters in Lafia, describing the governorship lection as the most flawed in the history of Nigeria.
Apparently worried by the international traction the protests garnered, Nasarawa state police command quickly banned all forms of protests across the state.
According to several persons and groups that monitored the state governorship election, the results INEC declared didn’t tally with what the commission uploaded on it’s Irev portal. They also maintained that the results INEC declared were at variance with what they collated.
A leading Non-governmental organisation (NGO) with special focus on good governance and participatory democracy, CivicHive, that monitored Nasarawa state governorship election, described their findings as “shocking.”
“What this result shows is that there appears to be irregularities with the result announced by INEC and what was recorded and uploaded on the result sheet as available on Irev,” noted CivicHive.
In Lafia LGA alone, observed CivicHive, INEC padded A A. Sule’s score with as much as 65,619 votes. Giving the breakdown, CivicHive said INEC declared 107, 213 votes in favour of APC’s A.A. Sule, and 41,594 for PDP’s Ombugadu, but that from its calculations, A.A. Sule actually polled 51,199 votes, while Ombugadu’s real votes were 48,770.
Governor A.A. Sule’s slim victory in his Lafia base, continued CivicHive, was in the face of “eight blurry results, five wrong uploads, eight wrong calculations, five cases of ‘no results’, two cases where elections didn’t hold, a case of cancelled election, and another case of over-voting.”
As at the time of collating the result, noted CivicHive, “the total number of uploads is (was) 3242/3256, which is about 99.6% of the total results expected to be on the platform.”
Even at that, further submitted CivicHive, “Out of the 13 LGAs, only 8 LGAs had complete results.” The NGO lamented that the results from Lafia were tainted by “alleged cases of voter suppression and manipulation” shit it added, led to the protests that rocked the state after A.A. Sule’s declaration as winner.
CivicHive said it scanned the results from 497 polling units, “and after collating results from the Irev by our team, the difference in the result is different from what was declared” by INEC.
Another observer, Mohammed Salisu, told The Authority that from he monitored at the polling wards across the state, there was no way A.A. Sule could have scored up to half of the 347,209 votes INEC announced in his favour.
According to the election observer, while Governor Sule’s strongholds were generally characterized by cases of over-voting, Gayam and Ciroma centres in Lafia stood out as most notorious.
He noted, “In Ward 8 of Gayam, INEC accredited 32,847 voters. Out of this number, there were 289 rejected votes. Miraculously, INEC still recorded 33,136 votes, meaning they manufactured 289 additional voters- the same number of voters they said they rejected.”
He said the role of INEC didn’t help matters. He stressed, “Following the delays that trailed the announcement of the results, and the admittance by INEC’s electoral officer in the central district of the state, Professor Samaila Usman, that there were several mistakes in Gayam and Ciroma wards, the least INEC should have done was to have ordered a re-run in those areas as they did in Adamawa and Kebbi States.
“Instead, in the face of the overwhelming irregularities, INEC went ahead to declare AA Sule winner”, regretted Salisu, adding, “I hear they are banking on the connection of a traditional ruler who used to be a very high-ranking officer in our judicial system.”
However, Ombugadu has expressed optimism in the ability of the tribunal to adjudicate on his petition without fear or favour.
“I want to call on my supporters to be calm as I believe in the Nigeria judiciary. Our case is very clear and the judicial system is the only hope for the common man,” he declared.
According to the petition submitted recently to the state election petition tribunal sitting in Lafia, Agabi is billed to lead other Seniir Advocates of Nigeria: Joe-Kyari Gadzama, S.I . Ameh, J. S. Okutepa, Chukwuma Machukwu Ume and Chibuike A. N. Nwokeukwu.
Other senior advocates in the team are Prof. S. S. Shikyil, Abdul A. Ibrahim, Mela Audu Nunghe, J. J. Usman, B. J. Akomolafe and M. J. Numa.