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APC Candidate, Audu, Dies As INEC Declares Poll Inconclusive

APC Candidate, Audu, Dies As INEC Declares Poll Inconclusive Abubakar Audu

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Kogi governorship election, Abubakar Audu, died a few hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the Saturday poll inconclusive.

Though the cause of Audu’s death was not confirmed on Sunday, he was said to have died as a result of a heart attack.

A close political associate of Audu, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, confirmed his death to one of our correspondents in Lokoja.

Bello, who was a Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, and currently a member of the House of Representatives, confirmed in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents that Audu died in his home town, Ogbonicha, in Ofu Local Government Area of the state on Sunday.

According to him, an unnamed driver and one of the wives of Audu confirmed the APC candidate’s death.

Bello said, “It is true, oga is dead. He died this afternoon in his house at his hometown. I have spoken with his driver and one of his wives, who confirmed the death to me. It is a big shock. Oga is dead o o.”

A family member, who did not want to be named, however, said Audu had been sick even before the campaign.

“His death is not sudden, though some may think so; but he just managed to pull through the campaign. He had been sick for some time,” the family member added.

Unconfirmed reports said Audu might have died in the early morning of Sunday.

One of his supporters, who did not want his name mentioned, said Audu had complained of a slight fever on Friday while travelling to his village.

“While travelling home on Friday for the Saturday election, Prince Audu complained of serious body pains and fever. He instructed his driver to park on the road and bought a bottle of water. The sickness deteriorated and he was ‘packaged’ to vote because he could hardly stand up,” the supporter said.

INEC declares poll inconclusive, Audu leads

The Returning Officer of the Kogi State Governorship election, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha, had earlier on Sunday declared Saturday’s poll in the state as inconclusive.

INEC explained that the APC candidate, Audu, scored a total of 240,867 votes and won majority of votes in 16 Local Government Areas, while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Capt. Idris Wada (retd), who is the incumbent governor, polled 199,514 votes and majority of votes in five LGAs.

Audu won majority votes in Okehi, Ajaokuta, Adavi, Kogi (Koton-Karfe) Ijumu, Yagba West, Yagba East, Idah, Kabba-Bunnu, Ofu, Amkpa, Olamoboro, Igalamela, Bassa, Lokoja and Ibaji.

Wada won majority votes in Mopa-Muro, Ogori-Magongo, Okenne, Omala and Dekina.

Kucha said with Audu’s votes at 240,867 and Wada at 199,514, the margin of Audu’s lead over Wada would be 41,353,

He said election was cancelled or not held in 91 polling units from 18 of the 21 local government areas.

He noted that the total cancelled votes or registered voters in places where the election did not take place were 49,953, a figure higher than Audu’s lead of 41,353.

According to him, the 2015 INEC Election Guidelines provide that in such a case, the candidate with the highest vote should not be declared or returned the winner, adding that the appropriate thing to do was to declare the election inclusive and hold a fresh election in the affected areas in due course.

Kachu said, “Apply the provisions of the above quoted guidelines, the guidelines is this: going by the INEC approved guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the 2015 general elections on pages 22–23, paragraph four, section M, the returning officer is directed to act as follows: Where the margin of win between the two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the polling units where elections were cancelled or not held, decline to make a return until another poll has taken place and the result incorporated into a new form. Form EC8D and recorded into form EC8D for declaration and return.

“Applying the provisions of the above guidelines, therefore, the total number of registered voters of the polling units, where elections were cancelled or not held, is in excess of the margin of win between the two leading candidates.

“Consequently, this election is, therefore, inconclusive and I hereby so declare. So, the election is inconclusive, and as the returning officer, I so declare.”

The returning officer explained that there were some cancellations of the results in some areas of the state.

He stated that election did not hold in some places because of violence and snatching of ballot boxes, failure to use the card readers and other irregularities.

Kachu added that some of the irregularities happened in 18 local governments.

He said, “In Adavi Local Government Area, five polling units were affected. The registered voters in those polling units are 2,134; and also in Ajaokuta LG, three polling units, with registered voters of 1,406, was affected.

“In Ankpa LG, nine polling units were involved and the registered voters affected are 6,021. In Bassa LG, two polling units were affected with 742 registered voters. In Dekina LG, 29 polling units were affected with 17,454 registered voters; while in Ibaji LG, six polling units were affected with 2,665 registered voters. In Idah LG, one polling unit with 310 registered voters was affected and   in Igala-mela LG, three polling units with 1,501 registered voters; were affected.

“In Ijimu LG, we have one polling unit with 705 registered voters; and in Kabba-Burnu, four polling units with 1,767 registered voters were affected. Also In Kogi (Koton-Karfe), two polling units were affected, with 1,689 registered voters; and in Lokoja LG, five polling units were affected with 2,854 registered voters.

“In Ofu LG, eight polling units were affected with 4,679 registered voters; and in Okehi LG, one polling unit with 403 registered voters were affected. Also in Okenne, one polling unit with 676 registered voters, and in another LG, four polling units were affected, with 2,046 registered voters.

“In addition, in Omula LG, six polling units with 6,526 registered voters; and in Yagba West, one polling unit with 375 registered voters were affected.”

Before INEC declared the election inconclusive, the PDP agent at the collation centre, Capt. Joe Agada (retd.), raised an objection against the declaration of Audu as the winner based on the provision of INEC guidelines.

He noted that Audu’s winning margin was not greater than the cancelled votes and the registered voters in areas that election did not hold.

Only 511,648 out of 1,379,971 registered voters were accredited to vote in the election.

The Senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, said the declaration of the election as inclusive was just a victory delayed.

The Progressive Peoples Alliance agent, Mr. Ojonuba Simeon, said it was proper to have declared the election inconclusive.

The National Coordinator, Election Monitor, Abiodun Ajijola, said the high number of rejected votes was a major issue, adding that such a development was not good for democracy. He stated that the election was peaceful.

Also, a domestic election observer, Miliki Abdul, said efforts should be made to avoid such a high number of rejected votes, calling on INEC, the media, civil society groups and other stakeholders to engage more in voter education.

Meanwhile, the APC has expressed confidence in its popularity to win the Kogi State governorship election.

The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said this in a text message in response to enquiries from The PUNCH on Sunday.

He also used the opportunity to dismiss allegation that the APC planned to rig the elections.

The opposition PDP had, prior to Saturday’s poll in the state, alleged that the APC was working in cahoots with partisan military operatives to rig the election.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, had, in a statement, claimed that “intelligence” available to the party indicated that an unnamed Colonel, who is a known APC sympathiser, was leading the assault.

Odigie-Oyegun added, “For the election, we rely solely on our popularity with the people, an independent INEC and the card reader. Rigging died with the PDP.”

He further explained that the continuing popularity and acceptance of the APC by Nigerians was not lost on the people of Kogi State, whom he said were confident of a better future under an APC-led administration.

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