By Ehi Ekhator
A former Member of the House of Representatives, lawyer and policy expert Dr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to declare the just conducted Osun State Governorship election inconclusive is more political than legal.
West-Idahosa expressed his opinion to NAIJA CENTER NEWS on Sunday hours after INEC fixed September 27 for the election rerun.
INEC had declared the Osun State Governorship election inconclusive on Sunday afternoon.
The decision was announced by the Commission’s Returning Officer, Joseph Afuwape
According to the result released by the Commission, Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party pulled 254, 699 votes against Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who had 254, 345 while Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate Iyiola Omisore had 128, 048 making the PDP candidate the leading candidate.
The Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof Joseph Fowape said, while quoting INEC’s Standing Rules at the commission’s headquarters in Osogbo, that the Commission had to declare the election inconclusive because the margin between the two leading candidates is lower than the registered cancelled votes.
INEC fixed September 27 for a rerun of the election which was attributed to irregularities in some polling units.
Reacting, the former lawmaker wondered why the Commission placed so much priority on cancelled votes even though it knows cancelled votes are not a condition to declaring a winner.
“Why is INEC given so much priority to cancelled votes on this occasion?. I can’t fathom it. This may be more political than legal. My view.
“It may make sense if the votes involved are in relation to centres where elections were not held due to no fault of the voters. However, where elections were held and votes are cancelled, they remain cancelled.
“They ought not to form part of the counting process and should not influence the outcome of the elections for any reason whatsoever. “
Citing Edo State governorship election on April 14 2007. between Adams Oshiomhole and Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, the former lawmaker said “In Oshiomhole vs Osunbor & others, cancelled votes were added to PDP’s scores. All the courts held that cancelled votes have no role to play in an election. The votes were deducted and Oshomhole was declared the winner of the election.
“INEC says the Osun Governorship election is inconclusive because the difference in votes is less than the number of cancelled votes. They are probably relying on their 2015 guidelines which appears contrary to Constitutional provisions on this matter.”