NIGERIA: LP Sues INEC, Others over By-Election

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Ondo State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) has instituted a suit to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare its own candidate in the April 5 by-election into the vacant Ilaje/Ese Odo federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Kolade Akinjo, the winner of the poll. The INEC, through the Returning Officer for the election, Prof Babatunde Adeyemi, had declared the election inconclusive due to the fact that the difference between the votes scored by the LP candidates that led in the poll was far below the number of voided votes while more than 28,000 registered voters could not vote on the day of election.
The commission therefore ordered that a supplementary election should be conducted in units where voters could not exercise their rights.
This declaration by INEC had caused series of controversies among stakeholders particularly between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the LP.
Not satisfied with the insistence of INEC on the supplementary election, the LP therefore approached the Federal High Court in Akure to seek some orders.
According to the suit with number FHC/AK/CS/28/14 filed on behalf of the party by Dayo Akinlaja, the LP prayed the court for a declaration that the INEC Returning Officer for the election has no power to declare the election as inconclusive.
Defendants in the suit are the INEC, Returning Officer, Advanced Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Progressive Congress (APC), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA).
Supported by an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the state Chairman of the party, Chief Dele Akinyele, the suit formulated two issues for determination by the court which include, “having regard to the provisions of Sections 27 and 69 of the Electoral Act, 2010, does an INEC Returning Officer have the power to declare a National Assembly election inconclusive after the conduct of the election, counting of votes and collation of results of the election?
“Did the first and second defendants act within the ambit of the law in failing to formally declare elected candidate who scored the highest number of votes in the House of Representatives election held on April 5 after the final collation of results?”
The LP therefore prayed the court for “a declaration that the first and second defendants acted ultra vires of their powers under the law in declaring as inconclusive the House of Representatives election for Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency instead of formally declaring the candidate with the highest number of votes the winner of the said election.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the first and second defendants from conducting any further election in respect of the vacant seat of Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency in the House of Representatives in whatever part of the constituency.
“Also, an order of mandatory injunction compelling the first and second defendants to formally declare the candidate with the highest number of votes in the said election the winner.”
The crisis on the election had taken various dimension including accusations and counter accusations among various stakeholders.
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