Official results released at the polling units and collation centres have shown that the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Chief David Lyon, are set to win the polls held on Saturday in the two states.
Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last night shifted the collation of the results of the Kogi election to today, incumbent Governor Bello was leading his closest rival, Musa Wada, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by over 200,000 votes.
Political pundits said last night that the figure places the governor in comfortable position over Wada, adding that the completion of the collation exercise today would be an affirmation for him.
Before the suspension of collation, Governor Bello was leading in eight councils.
In Ogori-Magongo council, the APC had 3,679 votes and PDP, 2,145 votes. The trend was the same in Ijumu council where the APC got 11,425 votes and the PDP had 7,587 votes
Omala LG also fell to APC with 8,473 votes to the PDP’s 14,403 votes while Adavi LG gave the APC 64,657 votes and PDP 366 votes
In Igalamela/Odolu, the APC lost with 8,075 to the PDP’s 11,195 votes; Okene LG, APC – 112,764 votes, and PDP – 139 votes; Kabba/Bunu APC – 15,364 votes, PDP – 8,084 votes; Kogi APC -14,097 votes, PDP -9,404 votes
Also yesterday, INEC disclosed the death of one ad-hoc staff at Ibaji local government area.
The state resident electoral commissioner (REC), Prof. James Apam, said that the staff died when the boat in which they were travelling capsized.
He said that the staff was a student of the Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, noting that arrangements had been made to convey his body to the state capital.
In a reaction to the results announced by INEC, Wada (PDP candidate) described them as fabricated, saying that they did not reflect the true wishes of the people.
Wada told a press conference in Lokoja, yesterday, that the results were manipulated by INEC in favour of Bello.
He said that people of Kogi State had been denied the opportunity to enjoy good governance as their wish had been thwarted by the electoral body.
Wada said: “This obvious daylight denial of allowing the people to determine whom they voted for in the just-concluded election is a complete trauma that would live with the people for a long time to come.“
He said that his rejection of the result was due to the disparity in the process and queried how the result from one local government area declared by INEC be more than the entire eastern flank of the state.
According to him, “the helicopters hovering over Lokoja were seen descending with gunshots to move ballot boxes and stuffing them with ballot papers. Where were the promised security forces and who were these people?“ The PDP candidate, therefore, called on INEC to discontinue with the election results because of the fraud associated with them and allow the votes of the people to count.
Nigeria Sliding Back To Era of Dictatorship – PDP
The national secretariat of the PDP has said that the conduct and outcome of the November 16 Kogi and Bayelsa State governorship elections have destroyed the hope Nigerians had in the democratic process.
In a statement issued by the PDP national publicity secretary, yesterday, Kola Ologbodinyan, he said that Nigerians and the entire world watched in horror as the APC-led government trampled “our democracy under foot with an utmost impunity that can only be obtainable in Hitler’s Germany and Samuel Doe’s Liberia, where the lives and rights of citizens meant nothing to suppressive power mongers.
“Citizens agonised as APC-controlled security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres, shoot and kill innocent citizens, cart away ballot boxes, stuffed them with already thumb-printed ballot papers in favour of the APC, after which results are allocated to the APC and handed over to a compromised INEC to announce against the will of the people.
“It is distressing that under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count; power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of the gun. Nigerians now ask; are we still in a democracy?
“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted.
“They have completely lost hope in INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, which has shown itself to be a repressive tool in the hands of dictatorial forces. As a party, we condole with the families of our compatriots that were killed in Kogi and Bayelsa States and prayed that God grant their souls eternal rest,” he said.
…APC Cautions Against Violence
In its response, the APC Campaign Council warned the PDP to refrain from causing violence and spreading falsehood in Kogi.
The Bello/Onoja campaign team also urged the opposition party to await the conclusion of the entire process it described as “free, fair and peaceful.”
In statement issued by the Media Committee of the Campaign Council, the APC said: “We have credible intelligence that the leadership of the PDP has directed the national publicity secretary Of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, to quickly address a press conference to condemn an ongoing process that has been adjudged free, fair, credible and peaceful just because they are seeing the handwriting of the people’s rejection on the wall.
“The pockets of crisis during the election were caused by the stand of the people against the rigging machinations of the PDP… Ologbondiyan and other PDP leaders should accept the verdict of the people and clean their names in the face of heavy accusations against them.
“We commend INEC and the security agencies for their excellent performance in ensuring fair conduct.
“To the PDP, they should prepare for future elections with seriousness and stop claiming ‘danger to democracy’ when things don’t go their way. We also congratulate Kogites for coming out en masse on Saturday to elect their next governor,” the committee said.
In Bayelsa, 33 political parties have rejected the result as Lyon leads in four of the six local government areas where results were collated with 42,000 votes.
The APC candidate won in Nembe, Ogbia, Yenagoa, Brass while his PDP rival, Senator Douye Diri clinched Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma.
At the time of filling this report last night, Lyon had garnered 148, 244 votes to Diri’s 106, 167.
The APC recorded massive win in Ogbia, the home council of former President Goodluck Jonathan with 58,016 votes as against PDP’s 13,763. The PDP’s loss in the council is attributed to the open disrespect of Governor Seriake Dickson for Jonathan.
The APC also coasted to victory in Nembe local government area with 83,041 votes as against PDP’s 874 votes. The PDP won in Sagbama, the home council of the governor with 60,339 votes to APC’s 7,831.
In Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area, where the PDP flag bearer hails from, the party defeated APC with 15,360 votes to 8,934 votes.
In Brass council where the minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, hails from, the APC defeated the PDP with 23,831 to 10,410 votes.
While briefing the press yesterday, Diri accused the Nigerian Army of conniving with the APC to rig the polls in some parts of the state.
Senator Diri said that though results collated by the party agents showed that the PDP won the governorship election, “members of the PDP were terrorised and arrested by soldiers on the orders of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, Gen. Sarham Jamil”.
Diri, who spoke in company of the national chairman of the PDP Campaign Council and Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, and the party’s national vice chairman, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, noted that what played out in Bayelsa confirmed the earlier red flag the PDP had raised days to the election about plots by the APC to use Gen. Sarham, who had since been transferred to the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) to defy his posting to supervise the election.
He said that critical stakeholders of the party were harassed and prevented from accessing the collation centre in Ogbia.
Diri claimed that the chairman of the council, Hon. Ebiyon Turner and a member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency II, Hon. Gibson Munalayefa, were arrested and detained by soldiers till the time of the press briefing.
In Southern Ijaw, he said that PDP members who were travelling to their communities for the election, including Dr. Michael Amaegberi, were also apprehended by soldiers at Ogboinbiri while their APC counterparts were allowed to continue with their journey.
Senator Diri, who commended INEC and the media for their show of professionalism in the conduct and coverage of the election, urged them to sustain the tempo for the sake of democracy.
He appealed to the international community and lovers of democracy to prevail on the Nigerian Army to respect the rule of law for democracy to thrive in Bayelsa and in Nigeria.
“The collation centre in Ogbia is under siege by the Nigerian Army and as we all know, this is against the laws of our land. It is an anathema because the Army has no business in determining who goes into a collation centre.
In their separate remarks, Governor Bala Mohammed and Ogidi also commended INEC for their efforts so far.
The governor urged Bayelsans to disregard the propaganda making the rounds, noting that the PDP was leading in the results being announced.
Ogidi condemned the level of violence perpetrated by the APC before and during the election as he described as unfortunate that the APC wants to take over the control of the state by all means.
The chairmen and governorship candidates of 33 political parties also demanded the cancellation of the poll over alleged electoral fraud, military intimidation and non-conduct of election in some parts of the state.
Comrade Okah Jones of the Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), Ebipade Onithsha of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Timpa Jenkins of the Hope Democratic Party and Hon. Fayeolori Bob-Manuel alleged that there were no elections in Nembe and other parts of the state.
Onithsha claimed that there were no election materials in Ekeremor local government area, saying that that “the declaration of the result in the council is unacceptable and we are ready to stage a protest in the state.”
Kogi West Senatorial Election Declared Inconclusive
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday declared the senatorial election it conducted in Kogi West senatorial district inconclusive.
The commission took the decision on the ground that the lead margin between Mr Smart Adeyemi who polled 80,118 votes and Dino Melaye who got 59,548 is 20,570 is lower than the 43,127 registered voters in 53 polling units of 20 registration areas in the zone.
The returning officer, Professor Olayinde Lawal who declared the election inconclusive said he was constrained by law to declare a winner because of the lead margin between the leading candidates.
He hinted that INEC will announce a new date for the conduct of a supplementary election in the 53 polling units before a winner can be returned.
Earlier, the PDP candidate in the November 16 Kogi West senatorial rerun, Senator Dino Melaye, had described the results being collated for the election as “magic results” and decried the wanton killings that characterised the exercise and the governorship election in the state.
Melaye, who earlier won the February 23 Senate election by defeating Smart Adeyemi of the APC, had his victory annulled by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal and the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court, which concurred with the lower court and ordered a fresh poll.
At a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday “Melaye said that he won the election “in the afternoon and by midnight, the APC manipulated the results,“ adding that the manipulations were made possible through the machinery of the APC in the state with the support of Governor Yahaya Bello by unleashing „unprecedented violence“ on voters and electoral officials.
He pointed out that over 70,000 valid votes were cancelled, saying, “it is left to be seen how INEC will announce a winner in the circumstance where the cancelled votes are more than the difference between the purported winner of the election and the runner-up.
“They did this by attacking my strongholds and then rig their strongholds. That is exactly what happened. They also went to Abuji where I am very strong politically; election did not take place there. There were sporadic gunshots.
“They went to Lokoja and carted away ballot boxes in over 10 polling units; they went to another place and carted ballot boxes from over 12 units. But I am surprised that INEC despite this violence, three people were shot and two died, four people were killed in Lokoja, seven were killed in the eastern part of the state is forging ahead. This is the record we have so far, apart from those who sustained gunshot wounds and those who were macheted and all that,“ he said.
Melaye added that he was surprised that despite the level of violence and the alleged reported abduction of INEC staff, corps members, INEC was collating fictitious results, which he said, would not be accepted as they did not reflect the reality on ground.
He also alleged that the result of one of the wards which the PDP won with over 1,000 votes was rejected by the returning officer because of the margin of defeat between him and Adeyemi.
He also alleged that the results of Iyara, Adeyemi‘s hometown was written while mayhem and violence were unleashed on his home town of Aiyetoro Gbede which claimed the life of his nephew, Olajuwonlo.
“The Electoral Act is clear, the election manual is very clear, that when the number of cancelled votes outweighs the number of votes between the winner and the loser, definitely, the election must be declared inconclusive.
“We are waiting to see what INEC will do. But I reject in totality these fictitious results. I, Dino Melaye won that election in the afternoon and then APC won it at night. I won that election clearly and we have the polling units’ results and I won with a very very wide margin,“ Melaye said.
EU Observers Raise Concerns
The European Union (EU) delegation which monitored the Kogi and Bayelsa elections has expressed concerns over what it termed intimidation, vote-buying and violence.
The Diplomatic Watch team was deployed from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States to observe the elections.
In a statement it issued, the mission said that „we express our alarm at reports of widespread cases of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi.
“There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all the victims and their families.”
The EU urged concerned stakeholders, especially political leaders to ensure calm and charged the security agencies to ensure that the culprits were prosecuted.
“We encourage all stakeholders, in particular political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage the security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We are also concerned by evident vote-buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi,“ the statement said.
It commended the determination of voters in the two states for defying all odds and coming out to vote and sympathised with the victims of the electoral violence.
“We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights. We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials, members of the NYSC, civil society, and the media. All should be able to carry out their fundamental roles in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment.
“We remain committed to working impartially with Nigerian authorities, INEC in particular, as well as the civil society to consolidate and deepen democracy,” the statement concluded.
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