The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to take over Adamawa State from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed tomorrow for the suspended governorship supplementary election in Adamawa State.
The election, which was earlier fixed for March 23, was suspended following a suit filed by the governorship candidate of the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Eric Theman, who alleged exclusion from the March 9 governorship election.
The case was however dismissed yesterday by a High Court in Yola, the state capital, for lack of merit. Adamawa is the home state of the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Confirming that the suspended governorship supplementary election would now hold tomorrow, INEC, in a statement, said: “Following the discharge of the injunction, which stopped the governorship supplementary election in Adamawa State in the case filed by the MRDD, INEC will now conduct the election on Thursday, March 28 in 29 Registration Areas (RAs), 44 polling units across 14 LGAs with a total of 40,988 registered voters.”
The electoral umpire, had while declaring the governorship election in the state as inconclusive, said the margin of votes between the two top candidates – Governor Jibrila Bindow (APC) and Ahmadu Fintri (PDP) – was lesser than the 40,988 cancelled votes.
INEC’s Returning Officer for the state, Prof. Andrew Haruna, said the margin of lead was 32,476 as PDP’s Fintiri polled 367,471 votes against Governor Bindow’s 334,995 votes.
Besides the likelihood of PDP taken over the governorship of Adamawa State, the opposition party has already taken over the state House of Assembly from the ruling APC. The PDP won 13 out of the 25 seats in the state Assembly, while APC won 11. African Democratic Congress (ADC) secured a seat.
The state constituencies won by the PDP are Demsa, Gombi, Guyuk, Uba/Gaya, Hong, Jada/Mbulo, Lamurde, Madagali, Nassarawo/Binyeri, Michika, Numan, Song and Yola North.
Those won by APC are Fufore/Gurin, Fufore/Verre, Ganye, Girei, Leko/Koma, Maiha, Mubi North, Mubi South, Shelleng, Toungo and Yola South, while ADC won Mayo-Belwa.
Already, PDP has taken over two APC controlled states – Imo and Bauchi. While the opposition party won Imo State through Emeka Ihedioha during the March 9 governorship and states Assembly elections, it took a supplementary poll before a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, won the Bauchi State governorship.
Mohammed defeated the incumbent governor, Mohammed Abubakar. He polled 515,113 votes against Abubakar’s 500,625 votes.
According to the results, Mohammed won by a wide margin in seven local government areas out of the 20 in the state, while Governor Abubakar won in 13 with a slim margin.
The state Returning Officer, Prof. Kyari Mohammed, who announced the result at exactly 11.pm on Monday said: “I, Prof. Kyari Mohammed, declares that I was the Returning Officer of the election in Bauchi State and that Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of the PDP has satisfied the requirements of the law and having scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared winner and is returned elected.”
Justice Abdulazeez Waziri of the Yola High Court, who lifted his earlier order restraining INEC from conducting the governorship supplementary election in Adamawa State, ruled that his court has the jurisdiction to entertain the case instituted by MRDD and its governorship candidate.
Subsequently the court fixed Wednesday March 27 (today) to hear the originating motion by MRDD, asking the court to nullify the governorship election conducted on March 9 over INEC’s removal of its logo from the ballot paper.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to MRDD party, Barr. Mustapha Ibrahim, described it as a perfect one as there is no point granting accelerated hearing and at the same time granting an order to restrain conduct of elections.
Also, Barrister Stephen Ibian, counsel to INEC, said “they are happy with the judgement vacating the earlier court order for the commission to go ahead and conduct the governorship supplementary election in the state.”
Meanwhile, Fintiri and his party (PDP) have been joined as second and third defendants in the suit, respectively.
Counsel to the PDP candidate, Joe Gadzama (SAN), who spoke on the development, said: “Fortunately, we have today been made parties, specifically the PDP governorship candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, is now the second defendant, while PDP is the third defendant in the suit. This ruling came in late, it is a swift victory, but at the same time we are going to be vigilant. It is not yet over.”
He further noted that there is no state or federal high court in the country that has the jurisdiction to entertain election cases except the election tribunal.
Addressing journalists on the development, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State, Barr Kassim Gaidam, said the decision to hold the election on Thursday is sequel to consultation with INEC headquarters.
He disclosed that a total of 368 ad-hoc staff would be deployed during the supplementary election.
On security, the REC maintained that arrangement has been concluded with the Nigerian Police and other sister security agencies to take care of any break down of law and order.
He therefore called on those who have no business at the polling units to distance themselves, promising that the election will be free and fair.
However, the APC, yesterday, rejected the election date. The Organising Secretary of the party, Alhaji Ahmed Lawal, announced the party’s decision in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yola.
Lawal, who said that INEC did not consult the party before fixing the new date for the poll, alleged that information had filtered out earlier that the election would be held on Thursday, March 28.
His words: “INEC failed to consult with political parties involved in this election before going ahead to fix a new date for the re-run. We, therefore, became suspicious due to rumours in town earlier that the supplementary election would be conducted on Thursday and it turned out to be true.
“We are not afraid of re-run election, but INEC should have done the right thing. How can you fix an election on a working day? Are civil servants not going to participate in the election? We are going to forward our protest on the matter to INEC.”
Meanwhile, the Bauchi State Governor-elect, Mohammed, has promised to run an inclusive and participatory government.
Mohammed, who made the promise, yesterday, in his acceptance speech, assured the people of the state that he will not make the mistakes of the outgoing administration.
“As a matter of fact, it is the failure of the outgoing administration to fulfil virtually all its promises that has dispirited the citizens of Bauchi State, leading to a palpable yearning for change.
“Our citizens have been subject to grave and unprecedented economic deprivation and political persecution. As a father, I feel a sense of moral outrage that many of our once very ambitious youths have become completely demoralized and reduced to thuggery and drug addiction,” he said.
The Governor-elect said his administration is determined to launch a pro-business, pro-market agricultural and economic revolution within four years of his tenure.
He explained that his aim is to win over a majority of the people of Bauchi State to believe in his administration and its new ideas, adding that he sees lots of opportunities for Bauchi people.
“Once we have a clearer picture of the economy, we will face the task of rebuilding Bauchi. But, I shall be honest with you about the challenges we face because I know that the road will be long and rough,” he said.
Mohammed thanked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who according to him, laboured hard with him alongside others for his victory.