Reactions have continued to trail the declaration of Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor-elect of Kogi state.
Speaking on a television programme, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, the director of Voter Education, Publicity, Civil Society and Gender Liason, explained why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Yahaya Bello winner of the Kogi state governorship poll.
According to Osaze-Uzzi, the commission hands were tied and could not change the rules.
Osaze-Uzzi added that the guidelines were clear on situations that could warrant the declaration of an election as “inconclusive.”
He said despite the fact that only about 13, 227 voters out of 49, 000 registered voters participated in the supplementary election, “INEC had a constitutional duty to conduct that election within certain parameters or framework.”
His words: “If INEC was satisfied that even one vote could make a difference, then we had no option than to conduct the election. It was not the making of INEC. Definitely, we would have loved to complete everything on November 21.
“We have learnt our lessons but we could not have changed the rules mid-way. A referee cannot just come up halfway into the game and say what used to be offside is no longer offside. The laws can only be reviewed after the match has ended.
“We got a letter from Faleke saying he is the governor-elect. At no time did he withdraw. APC never withdrew his name either. In any case, we never relate with individuals. We only deal with candidates through their parties.
“Even so, his withdrawal would have been correct if it was within the time for withdrawal, which is 45 days before the election, and if his party had forwarded his withdrawal letter to the commission. When he was nominated as deputy governorship candidate, it was his party that forwarded his resume, affidavit and other details to INEC and not Faleke himself.”
The INEC’s reaction comes after James Faleke, Bello’s purported deputy, declared that he would not be available for swearing in with Bello on January 27.
Faleke had, upon the death of his principal, Prince Abubakar Audu, written INEC to declare him as winner of the polls, despite INEC having initially declared the poll as inconclusive.