PROF MAHOOD YAKUBU NEWThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to apply available legal provisions on the recent development over Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State.

Deputy Director of Publicity of the commission, Mr. Nick Dazang, however, said that INEC will apply such legal provisions only after it has been officially informed of the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He said that by Monday, the commission was yet to be informed of his demise by the APC. “APC has to do proper notification, and accompany it with the certificate of death issued by a medical doctor,” he said.

Audu, who was leading his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent governor of the state, Idris Wada, in the election, which was declared inconclusive by INEC, died suddenly on Sunday in his home in Ogbonicha.

He was buried on Monday afternoon according to Islamic injunction. Dazang said that INEC would apply relevant laws and make a pronouncement on its position on the election immediately it received official notification of Audu’s death from his political party.

He said that there were legal provisions to address such incidence in the country’s electoral process. “When something like this happens, the party on which platform the candidate contested will need to notify the commission; of course, we have heard and read like everyone else but we need to be notified.

“Once the commission is notified, it will look at relevant clauses of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and also the Constitution of APC itself.

“All these relevant laws will be looked at with a view to determine what is to be done to ensure that whatever is done subsequently is done within the ambit of the law…

“Thankfully we have a consortium of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) that provide counsel to the commission. We also have a very vibrant legal service department, headed by a SAN,’’ Dazang said.

The director assured that because of the urgency of the issues involved in the supplementary election, INEC would prepare itself to commence consultation.

He expressed hope that the commission would come out with its position about the election before the end of the week, saying that the Electoral Act prescribed 14 days for the conduct of supplementary poll.

He declined comment on whether the commission would proceed with a supplementary election or conduct a fresh poll in Kogi.

Dazang, however, said that whatever the situation would be, Kogi election would not affect that of Bayelsa as the commission had the capacity to handle the two elections.

On efficiency of the card reader for the Kogi election, he said that available statistics revealed that less than one per cent of the deployed card readers failed.

According to Dazang, about 53, out of the 6, 0066 card readers deployed to the state malfunctioned in the exercise.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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