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THE INSIDER: INEC may not update Imo guber votes tally despite s’court verdict

THE INSIDER: INEC may not update Imo guber votes tally despite s’court verdict
January 15
17:13 2020
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may not release another tally of votes from the Imo state governorship election despite a supreme court verdict, TheCable understands.

The apex court had on Tuesday nullified the outcome of the election as announced by INEC thereby invalidating the earlier tally announced by the commission.

However, a top official of the commission tells TheCable the electoral umpire has no basis to release another tally as the supreme court did not direct it to do so.

THE ‘MISSING’ VOTES

In a unanimous decision on Tuesday, a seven-man panel held that Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the authentic winner of the election and not Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier announced by INEC.

The panel held that Uzodinma, not Ihedioha, won the majority of votes cast in the election when votes due to Uzodinma from 388 polling units — which it claimed were wrongly excluded — were re-added.

“It is hereby ordered that Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the said election. His return as the elected governor of Imo state is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside.

“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019, and has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirement.

“It is hereby declared that first appellant, senator Hope Uzodinma is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.”

WHAT DID INEC ANNOUNCE EARLIER?

In the official result of the governorship election, which can be downloaded on INEC’s website, Ihedioha polled the highest votes cast of 273,404 votes, while Uzodinma came a distant fourth with 96,458 votes. 

In between, Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance (AA) and  Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) came second (190,364 votes) and third (114,676 votes) respectively.

Although TheCable could not immediately confirm the circumstances surrounding the missing votes in the 388 polling units as claimed by the supreme court, INEC usually cancels votes from particular polling units affected by irregularities such as violence or over-voting.

In fact, because of challenges usually experienced in that regard, INEC recently announced that while it lacks powers to cancel an election because of irregularities, it will not proceed with the process in any area where the safety of voters, its personnel and materials is threatened.

‘NO DIRECTIVE TO ISSUE ANOTHER TALLY OF VOTES’

The INEC official told TheCable on Wednesday that the supreme court only directed that Uzodinma be issued a certificate of return, and that it did not mandate the commission to update the election outcome it had published.

He added that the apex court has totalled the votes by themselves, wondering what else is INEC expected to do.

“The court has done the tally and announced the outcome. What other thing do you want the commission to do?” the official said.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

With the supreme court ruling, there seem to be more questions than answers regarding the drama in Imo including how the supreme court came about the votes it tallied. How many votes were left out, enough to make up for the gap of 176,946 votes between Ihedioha and Uzodinma? Was it only Uzodinma that was affected in the 388 polling units? On what ground did INEC nullify the votes from the polling units? What Could it be the apex court faulted INEC’s decision? What happens in subsequent elections when the commission decides to void votes from some polling units as it deems fit? The litany of questions continues.

However, while the wait for INEC decision on the matter continues, TheCable understands the commission will meet to decide on what next, and possibly, announce a date when it will issue a certificate of return to Uzodinma as the now confirmed governor of Imo state.

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