By Danladi Alhassan
The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has commenced thefinal collation of the Bauchi State Governorship Election results with its officials regenerating the results from the controversial Tafawa Balewa local government area. This followed the lifting of a temporary restriction on the process on Monday by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, which it had earlier placed
The stage is now set for the final collation and announcement of winner.
Ibrahim Abdullahi, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, confirmed that the commission has started the final collation of the Bauchi State Governorship Election.
“As soon as the regeneration process is completed and entered into Form EC8A which has been retrieved from the central bank, the state collation centre will open for the final collation and declaration,” he told a section of the media.
Sections 6 and 7 of the INEC guidelines for the 2019 general elections, empowers a REC, in any case of mutilation of results, to order the local government collation officer to regerate results using form EC8B.
INEC annulled results from Tafawa Balewa due to mutilation of the results on Form EC8A at the local government collation centre.
The electoral body later reversed its decision and declared that the Tafawa Balewa results would be regenerated from the wards.
This later decision led Muhammed Abubakar, the governor of Bauchi State and the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to challenge the decision in court, urging the commission to instead go ahead with a supplementary poll.
Abubakar’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had approached the court requesting among other things, an ex-parte application preventing INEC from proceeding with its decision to collate results in the state.
However, on Monday, Justice Inyang Ekwo, clarified his earlier ex-parte application orfer temporaily halting the collation of the results and said there was never a time that his court granted the ex-parte application made by Raji.
Ekwo said what the court ordered following the earlier application is an order for parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit before him. He also said the submissions of Raji that the tribunal could entertain an application emanating from an election matter, “only after a return has been made: is a temporary situation that does not have the capacity to stand for long.”
“The issue at hand happened during an election. And the complaint was also made as a result of an election, subsequently,” Ekwo said.
The judge therefore declined to give a pronouncement on the substantive matter and deferred his decision to allow the election tribunal make a pronouncement on the substantive matter.
The court also ruled that the order to maintain statusquo earlier granted on the matter had been lifted.
Hence, the decision of INEC to proceed with its decision made public in March 15.
The REC explained that He said what went wrong in Tafawa Balewa two weeks ago was that, after the result sheet was destroyed, the local government collation officer entered the results on Form EC8B without the approval of the REC.
By Danladi Alhassan