Over the weekend, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted supplementary elections in 2,660 polling units in 185 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across 24 states of the Federation which translates into two governorship, five senatorial, 31 House of Representatives and 57 state assembly seats across 17 states.
Priorly the commission had said all outstanding governorship, national and state Assembly supplementary elections will be held where they were previously suspended due to hitches like violence, for which the exercise was declared inconclusive.
However, like the same old story that characterizes elections in Nigeria, it was widely reported that the supplementary polls were marred by irregularities and violence such as vote buying, ballot snatching, voters’ suppression and intimidation, late arrival of materials and so on in some states including Kano, Kebbi, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Sokoto and Imo leading to the death of no fewer than four persons.
All Eyes On Adamawa
Going into the supplementary elections, many were so much interested and particular about Adamawa state due to the fact that it had the potential of producing Nigeria’s first democratically elected female governor.
Recall that the electoral umpire had declared the state governorship election inconclusive after the final results tallied by INEC showed that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP scored the highest votes, the commission however said the canceled votes were more than the margin of victory between Mr Fintiri and the runner-up, Aisha Dahiru of the APC.
But drama erupted in the state again last Sunday following the declaration of Aisha Dahiru as the winner null and void and the subsequent suspension of the collation of results over what the commision called the usurpation of power by its Residents Electoral Commissioner (REC).
Yunusa Ari, the REC had earlier announced Aisha ‘Binani’ Dahiru, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the election. A function reserved for returning officer of the election, Mr Mele Lamido according to the electoral act.
The commission has since suspended Yunusa Ari until further notice and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has emerged as the winner of the supplementary governorship election.
Prof Mohammed Mele, the returning officer of the governorship election announced on Tuesday that Fintiri polled 430,861 votes, to defeat his closest rival, Aisha Dahiru ‘Binani’ who got 398,738 votes.
Records Of Deaths
In Kebbi there were reports that an unidentified man was shot dead by soldiers on patrol at Bajida polling unit 001, Fakai Local Government Area of Kebbi South for attempting to snatch a ballot box from officials of INEC.
According to eyewitnesses in the area, the deceased who was a member of the proscribed Yansakai, a local volunteer vigilante group, was said to have intruded into the polling unit claiming to be a security agent. It was further reported that he was alleged to have attempted to snatch a gun from a soldier at the polling unit when he was shot.
Similarly, it was also reported in Akwa Ibom that a male corps member serving as Ad-hoc staff was shot in his leg while a few other people were seriously injured when armed thugs attacked.
Ballot Snatching and Harassment of INEC Officials
In Kano it was reported that the large turnout of voters in about 16 Local Government Areas where the supplementary elections for the House of Representatives and state House of Assembly took place was marred by snatching and destruction of ballot boxes and menace of political thugs in some polling units.
Also the rerun which took place in five local councils in Imo State had large turnout but it was characterised by violence, ballot snatching, and harassment of INEC officials according to reports.
By and large, the supplementary elections that took place over the weekend was a further reflection of the deterioration of Nigeria’s electoral system and administration. The violence is highly condemnable and we urge the police and the electoral commission to bring the perpetrators to book.
Furthermore, there’s also a need to carry out all encompassing electoral reforms coupled with the political will to implement the recommendations given so that future elections can be free, fair and transparent and void of violence.