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INEC fixes Saturday, March 9, for supplementary presidential election

SATURDAY, March 9, 2019, is the date decided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of a supplementary presidential election, in places where voting was earlier cancelled.

The decision was reached on Thursday at the commission’s meeting with resident electoral commissioners in Abuja.

INEC’s national commissioner for information and voter education, Festus Okoye, confirmed in a statement issued on Friday that the supplementary election will be held at the same time as the gubernatorial, state houses of assembly, and FCT area council elections.

“The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections,” the statement read.

“In a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate non-compliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), contrary to the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.

“Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place and/or where returns could not be made on Saturday, 9th March 2019 alongside the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.”

The commission also observed that the conduct of certain members of the security agencies deployed for the general elections “is a matter of serious concern” and said it would raise this with the Inspector-General of Police at the level of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

The commissioners at the Thursday meeting, while noting that the elections were generally peaceful, also decried ” the high level of violence in a few places, which regrettable led to fatalities in some states”.

They additionally expressed satisfaction at the commission’s level of preparedness and deployments of materials for the elections slated for Saturday, March 9.

The electoral commission had cancelled the presidential elections in some areas, including two local government areas in Rivers State and polling stations in Lagos and Anambra, due to violence.

The Electoral Act of 2010 does not, however, provide for “supplementary elections” in any of its sections. This position has also been confirmed by Jiti Ogunye, a Lagos-based constitutional lawyer, who wrote in 2013 that the “there is no room or provision in the Electoral Act or in the Constitution of Nigeria for a so-called supplementary election”.

“It is our considered submission that Section 26 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, only contemplates the postponement of a scheduled election before the “arrival” of the date appointed for the conduct of the election on any of the three grounds (reasons) therein contained. The postponement must be before or ahead of the date earlier appointed, not during or after. Further, the postponement of an election date and the appointment of a new date for the postponed election must be done pari passu. Under the Section, an indefinite postponement is not envisaged or permissible,” the legal analyst had submitted.

“This Section is, therefore, not a statutory authority for the now familiar absurdity in Nigeria’s electoral system, called ‘supplementary election’. There is no legal backing, in the Electoral Act or in the Constitution, for this travesty of electoral practice.”

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