Posted by News Express | 1 November 2013 | 3,027 times
The Democratic People’s Party (DPP) candidate for the October 12 Delta Central Senatorial bye-election, Chief Ede Dafinone, has abandoned his plans to challenge his defeat at the election tribunal.
Dafinone had earlier vowed to challenge the victory of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, saying in an interview published October 30 by News Express: “Our counsel will proceed to the tribunal and ask for a complete cancellation of the sham of an election. We do not believe that it is possible to declare a winner based on what happened on the 12th of October. There was no voting, voters were intimidated, the results that were written are all fictional, I make bold to make that statement, therefore to declare any winner from that process will be again false. We need a fresh election to decide the senatorial seat in Delta Central.”
Dafinone has, however, had a change of mind as indicated in a press statement personally signed by him and made available to News Express. The statement dated October 30 repeated the allegation of massive rigging, saying that the decision not to sue was taken “after due consultation with the leaders of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Party executives, my campaign organisation, members of DPP and our legal team.” According to Dafinone in the statement:
I reiterate that there was no election held on the 12th October, 2013 in Delta Central Senatorial District. The significant incidents of ballot box snatching, intimidation of voters by thugs assisted by supposed men and officers of the Nigerian Army, multiple thumb-printing of ballot papers, and the writing of fictitious results which were confirmed and subsequently announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the PDP completely removed all credibility from the process.
I aver that INEC has a constitutional duty to conduct free and fair elections in the interest of our nascent democracy and that the gross failure in this regard has sustained the continued imposition of candidates through rigged/flawed elections which only serves to ensure the continuation of a cycle of poverty for the people due to bad governance.
The bad experience of Delta Central’s violent election rigging spree confirms the absence of a truly independent INEC able to conduct free and fair elections, secured by neutral security agencies, and manned by youth corpers who are skilled and trained. This portends a clear and imminent danger for our democracy.
Friday 1st November, will be the last working day within the 21 days required by extant law for filing at the Election Petitions Tribunal, and we must now ask what the benefit would be to the Party where our prayer to cancel the fake results of the sham bye-election is granted at the Tribunal and/or the Court of Appeal.
Our legal advisers have examined the options available and are of the view that where the process runs to its maximum time limits and we are successful at the Appeal Court a re-run election would be called on or before 31st October, 2014. Three problems now arise:-
a) Firstly, the winner of this “re-run” election having contested in two elections by this time would serve as a Senator only until 29th May, 2015 i.e. less than 7 months.
b) Secondly, the Electoral Act requires that for all general elections, the voting and declaration of winners should be concluded 6 months before the swearing in of the elected official. Therefore, the 2015 senate elections must be concluded by 30th November, 2014 in fulfilment of this requirement.
c) Where the Tribunal and Appeal court processes run the full course of time allowed and the final Appeal court verdict is announced on (say) the 31st July, 2014, a further issue arises. The Electoral Act requires that a bye-election may not be held within 90 days of a general election. Victory in the Tribunal/Appeal court that is delayed to take the full allowed time may therefore result in justice being obtained but without any possibility of a bye-election.
Some would argue that a cancellation of the flawed bye-election of the 12th October without any call for a further bye-election should be a significant enough victory for the Nigerian electorate, especially as this potential outcome releases the candidates from participating in two elections within a very short space of time. This scenario still strikes a significant blow for the robbed and beaten electorate of Delta Central Senatorial District.
After wide consultations and taking due cognisance of differing views especially amongst the leadership of the DPP, I am of the view that:
a) An eventual ruling in favour of the DPP at the Court of Appeal may in view of the time constraints in the Electoral Act, be too late for a re-run election to be feasible.
b) Where the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal rule early enough to make a re-run election legally feasible then the potential time to be served in the Senate would be significantly less than one year, with a substantial part of this period being devoted to the politics of the 2015 elections.
c) An election petition being a legal tussle can go either way and given our past experiences there are no guarantees that the Tribunal would eventually rule that the election was marred by corrupt practices which resulted in the absolute absence of an election and should therefore be cancelled and a re-run election called.
I will therefore not be proceeding to the Election Petitions Tribunal and believe instead that we would best serve the interest of the electorate of the Delta Central Senatorial district and Nigeria by taking our case to the court of public opinion for Nigerians to judge for themselves whether INEC conducted a free and fair election in the Delta Central Senatorial District on the 12th October, 2013. This I hope would ensure that future elections do not follow the same trend as our experience in the Delta Central Bye-election.
•Photo shows Ede Dafinone.
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