By Temitope Owotoki
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has challenged the order of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering it to stop the collation of the governorship election results in Bauchi State.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education said the commission has filed a ‘motion on notice,`challenging the jurisdiction of the court in granting the order. ” The motion has not been taken. Until that motion is taken, the court order barring us from collating the result of Tafawa Balewa area subsists,” he said.
Although Okoye disclosed that the commission has stopped the collation of the governorship result, he said the collation process would continue in the state assembly elections in the affected areas.
On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Abuja barred INEC from resuming the collation and announcement of governorship election result in Bauchi. Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order following an ex parte application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Bauchi state Governor, Mohammed Abubakar.
“The commission has already taken a decision. The order is from a properly constituted court of law, so we complied. “We have fully complied with the court order in relation to collation of the governorship election for Tafawa Balewa local government area,” Okoye said.
He said the commission would conduct supplementary elections in areas not affected by the order of the Federal High Court.
INEC initially declared the governorship election in Bauchi, along with the elections in Benue, Plateau, Sokoto, Kano and inconclusive. It also announced that supplementary elections would take place on 23 March.
But in a sudden twist, INEC said it would no longer hold supplementary elections in the contentious Tafawa Balewa Local Government, where it said the result of the poll on March 9 was torn by an armed gang.
INEC also said it has appointed a new returning officer for the council and that collation would resume on Tuesday. It said a fact-finding committee headed by Okoye recommended that the results of polling units in the council should be upheld and then cancelled the planned election in the council.
INEC’s volte-face angered the All Progressives Congress candidate and the incumbent governor, Muhammed Abubakar and his party. There were accusations about denial of fair hearing by the Okoye committee and that the committee was compromised because Okoye has some relationship with some PDP leaders, such as House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who is from the affected local government area.