The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has set itself up for a legal challenge in Orlu/Orsu/Oru East Federal Constituency election of Imo state. After the elections last Saturday, it declared that the election was inconclusive. But in a stunning reversal on Monday, it declared Jerry Alagboso of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner.
According to Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alagboso polled 21273 to defeat the AA candidate, Dr. Ikenna Ihezuo, who polled 2,171 votes and APC’s Edwin Iheanacho, with 20061 votes. As expected, the other political parties have kicked against the reversal.
Backstory: Ezeonu said the reversal and declaration of Alagbaso as winner was because the Returning Officer did not apply the electoral guidelines properly in declaring the election inconclusive.
What the INEC guidelines provide, according to Ezeonu, is that areas where card readers were not deployed, either as a result of violence or compromise, such areas should have zero returns. However, he said, the guideline was not applied uniformly. Some areasthat were declared inconclusive had results, while others did not. INEC says it has now applied the law uniformly, as stipulated.
The other parties have accused INEC of bias.
Bottom Line: It is inevitable that this case will end up at the tribunal now. If what INEC is saying is actually true, it demonstrates another case of incompetence within the electoral commission. Knowing how volatile these issues are, itwould have been preferable for INEC to delay announcement until it had its calculations right, rather than making a problematic announcement and then reversing it.