Three months after the state and national legislative re-run elections in Rivers state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have curiously refused to released some of the results of the election thereby denying the people of Rivers State representation at the National Assembly.
Whereas INEC claimed that it suspended the announcement of the results because of alleged widespread violence during the conduct of the elections but it went on to release results of the Rivers State House of Assembly but refused to formally declare the results of the National Assembly.
Investigations by ionigeria.com has authoritatively revealed that INEC’s refusal to release the result of the National Assembly is a fall-out of the politics surrounding the leadership of the Senate and exemplifies the lack of independence of the electoral umpire.
According to very dependable sources within INEC, the results for the National Assembly are ready because they were declared at the polling units and ward levels but INEC is being prevailed upon by the Executive arm of government at the national level not to release the results because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the vast majority of the seats including the three senatorial elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari, according to our sources, is hell-bent on removing the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. The calculation was that by now the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) would have convicted Senator Saraki of the charges leveled against him thereby compelling him to resign. Without the three Senators from Rivers State, it would be easier for the All Progressive Congress (APC) to produce the next Senate President.
APC currently has 60 Senators, with the 3 Senators from Rivers State, PDP will have 49. If Senator Saraki resigns as Senate President all that is needed for PDP to produce the next Senate President is for 6 APC senators to support the candidate of PDP. This can easily be achieved as all the senators from Kwara and Kogi are loyal to Saraki.
However, with the planned removal of Saraki using the instrumentality of the CCT dragging, President Buhari’s government has come up with another plot. Senator Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, are now to be arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery of the upper legislative chamber’s Standing Rules, 2015.
Saraki and Ekweremadu are to be charged along with two others, a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi.
Commenting on INEC’s refusal to release the results of the rerun elections, Mr. Peter Egbegi, a legal practitioner and former Attorney General of Bayelsa State said: “The constitution requires INEC to conduct elections not later than a month in the event of vacancy to fill a seat like we have in our hands in Rivers State”.
“Section 76(2) of the constitution, Part V section 25(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, adopts this position but is specific that vacancy to be filled not later than 30 days. However, INEC is playing with the fact that neither the constitution nor the Electoral Act provides for time to conduct elections and announce results after inconclusive elections.”
We can only infer that such inconclusive elections should be concluded not later than 30 days after the inconclusive exercise. We can argue so because it cannot be the intention of the legislature to leave the constituents unrepresented for a day longer. That will not conduce with representative democracy. INEC can be compelled to conduct elections in those areas said to be inconclusive not later than 30 days from inconclusive election and proceed to announce results.”
Continuing he said, “INEC is obliged to give a substituted date for elections rather than wait forever. See section 26(1) (2) of the Electoral Act”.