The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has challenged the order of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering it to stop the collation of the Bauchi governorship election results.
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the exparte order while accusing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of “arm-twisting” the judiciary to “unconstitutionally” halt the conclusion of collation of the election which it claims its candidate won.
The PDP made the allegation after the court barred INEC from resuming the collation and announcing the Bauchi governorship election result.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo following an exparte application filed by the APC and the Bauchi state Governor, Mohammed Abubakar.
But announcing INEC’s decision to challenge the order, spokesperson Festus Okoye said the commission has filed a “motion on notice” against the order of the Federal High Court.
The spokesperson said while INEC has stopped collation of the governorship result, the collation process for the state assembly elections would continue pending the outcome of its application.
“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,” said Okoye.
“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,” he said.
Recall that INEC had suspended the March 9 elections in the state after the result for Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area was torn by suspect political thugs.
The electoral umpire subsequently announced that supplementary elections would take place on March 23 in the affected area.
Meanwhile, in its reaction to the Federal High Court order on the Bauchi election results collation, the PDP, in a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “the development, which is akin to the infamous order that derailed the 1993 democratic process, is part of the plot by the APC and certain compromised elements in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to escalate crisis and derail our electoral process.”
The statement said, “The power to collate, suspend collation and or to reverse such decision based on obvious circumstances as the case in Bauchi is clearly within the domain of INEC. Until Collation is completed and results declared no one can question the constitutional powers of the electoral body: INEC, in that regard.
“The PDP cautions that if this desperate underhand measure by the APC to halt electoral processes is not checked, our hard earned democracy will fail us and our nation thrown into anarchy.
“Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar exparte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is clear that collation of result is part of the electoral process and that INEC cannot act on a purported exparte order to jettison its independence and halt the collation of results, which is a key component of its statutory electoral duty.
“Section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act is unambiguous in its prescription that “nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election or the processes thereof under this Act pending the determination of a suit”.
“Our party therefore charges INEC to be properly guided by the law in this regard.
“The PDP urges the institution of Judiciary not to allow the APC to entangle the court in its shenanigans to destroy our hard-earned democracy.
“Nigerians in Bauchi state have elected the PDP and nothing can change this reality,” said the party.