Alphonsus Agborh – Asaba
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State and its gubernatorial candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege have protested the collation of results from the concluded 2023 gubernatorial election in breach of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to a petition signed by Mr. Godwin Anaughe, the Director, Election and Strategy and addressed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party said the collation of the election results was done without regard to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 across Delta State.
“Following the conduct and announcement of results, the Electoral Act makes provision for the collation of the announced results in order to determine the winner of the election,” the party contended.
Highlighting the provisions of Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act, APC and its candidate quipped: “A collation Officer or returning officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election, subject to his or her verification and confirmation that the:
“(a) number of accredited voters stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 47(2) of this Act; and (b) the votes stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under section 60(4) of this Act”.
It noted that “The All Progressives Congress, in the course of this State collation exercise, has raised questions as to the correctness of the votes stated in the collated results being produced from many of the Local Government Areas before the returning officer as it is contemplated under section 64(6) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which provides:
“Where during the collation of results, there is a dispute regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or RETURNING OFFICER shall use the following to determine the correctness of the disputed result- (a) the original of the disputed collated results for each of the polling units where the election is disputed;
(b) the smart card reader (in this case-the BVAS) used for accreditation of the voters in each of polling units where the election is disputed; (c) data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47(2) of this Act; and (d) the votes and results of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed under section 60(4) of this Act”.
The APC stressed that “For the avoidance of doubt, without prejudice to the correctness of any collated result, as may arise from any inquest, the APC has disputed and is still disputing before this Collation Body, the correctness of the collated results from all polling units” in the Local Government Areas of the state.
They include all the council areas Delta north ie Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, Ika South, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Ukwani, Ndokwa East and Ndokwa West.
The areas listed in Delta South Senatorial District are Bomadi (Only Wards 07, 08 and 09, that is, Akugbene 1, Akugbene 2 and Akugbene 3), Burutu, Patani, Warri North, Warri South West, Warri South and Isoko North
Delta Central Senatorial District has the following: Ethiope East, Okpe, Ughelli South (only Wards 04, 05, 07 and 08), Sapele (Only Wards 02, 03, 05, 08 and 10).
“We know for a fact that every Political Party and candidate or its agent has the right to contest the correctness of any collated result pursuant to section 64(6) of the Electoral Act, 2023 and once that is done the Collation Officer or Returning Officer has a bounden or mandatory DUTY to inquire into the disputed collated result by taking the steps outlined in this section of the Electoral Act.
“The collation officer does not have discretion in the matter. Section 64(5) provides that a collation officer or returning officer shall use the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from the polling unit under section 47(2) of this act and the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from the polling unit under section 60(4) of this act to collate and announce the result of an election if a collated result at his or a lower level of collation is not correct. It is our contention that in the above LGAs, there was a massive bypass of the BVAS and illegal entry of false results.”