Imo governorship election was credible despite challenges – INEC

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that Imo state’s gubernatorial election was credible, despite the challenges characterizing the poll.

INEC chief press secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, told The ICIR that though Imo state’s governorship election was fraught with challenges, the results announced were credible and INEC cannot contest the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“As far as INEC is concerned, the Imo Governorship election was credible, despite some challenges. However, it is not for the Commission to contest the Supreme Court’s decision.”

This statement answers one of the questions most people have about the apex court’s decision.

The Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha who polled 273,404 votes and inaugurated Hope Uzodinma who polled 96,458 votes, as governor of Imo state.

In protest, members and supporters of  People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday and Monday took to the streets in different states of Nigeria,  demanding a reversal of the ruling and the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammed. 

There has also been clamour in some quarters for INEC to conduct fresh elections in Imo state but the Commission told The ICIR that it won’t be doing so especially because the Supreme Court did not ask it to do so.

“There is no need to conduct another election since the Supreme Court did not ask the Commission to do so,” Oyekanmi said.
The Verdict 
The Supreme Court in its ruling declared Uzodinma winner after including results from 388 polling units that were initially cancelled and excluded from the official results declared by INEC.
The addition of the cancelled results increased Uzodinma’s votes to 309, 753 votes, representing  221 per cent increase.
However, the same addition wasn’t done for other candidates who were also on the ballot paper in the 388 polling units.
With the increment, the number of recorded votes also shot up, tipping over the number earlier recorded by INEC. According to the record,   accredited voters in Imo were  823,743 and the total vote casts were 714,362.
But the in the Supreme Court’s judgement, the number of votes garnered went up to 948,000, exceeding the number of accredited voters recorded by INEC.
Critics have described the calculation by the apex court as ‘absurd judicial arithmetics’. But Oyekanmi, in an interview, told The ICIR that such ‘error’ could not be analysed by the Commission as it will be unhelpful given that the Supreme Court is an apex court.
“Remember that the Supreme Court is not a trial but an apex court, therefore, it will be unhelpful and pointless for INEC to begin to analyse it.”

He said: “INEC was not the plaintiff in the case. Our duty is to obey all legitimate court judgments, regardless of if we disagree with the judgment. Even if we disagree with this particular judgment of the Supreme Court, to which other courts can we file an appeal?”

INEC said it has already made a declaration and having it overruled by the Supreme Court is not a problem as the apex court has the power to do so.
“As I pointed out earlier, the Commission is not in the position to pass a verdict on the judgment of the Supreme Court. However, the Commission did make a declaration after the Imo State Governorship election and the figures we released are already in the public domain,” Oyekanmi said.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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