The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had scheduled a supplementary election for March 23 after the initial March 9 election was declared inconclusive.
However, during a March 14 ruling, the Yola High Court restrained the commission from conducting the election owing to an ex parte motion filed by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD) that claimed that its logo was excluded from the ballot paper for the March 9 election.
When the substantive hearing of the suit commenced on Thursday, March 21, INEC’s counsel, Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), urged the court to discharge the injunction on grounds that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He argued that as a federal agency, only a federal court could issue such an injunction against INEC.
He further noted that the MRDD should never have approached the court because the issue before it should have been tabled before the election petition tribunal after the electoral process has been concluded.
He said, “When election processes starts, even with casting of one vote, the matter arising from the election should be referred to Election Petition Tribunal.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Umaru Fintiri, also filed separate motions before the court to be joined in the suit.
MRDD’s counsel, Yemi Pitan, prayed the court to order INEC to conduct a fresh election as the commission had no power to disqualify its candidate, Eric Theman, from the race.
Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 26 to give him all the time needed to study all documents submitted by all the relevant parties.
This means the supplementary election will not take place on Saturday, March 23, as earlier scheduled by INEC.
Adamawa governorship election
Following the conduct of the March 9 election, INEC declared the Adamawa governorship race inconclusive because the lead margin was lower than the total number of votes cancelled in certain areas.
With 367,471 votes, Fintiri was in the lead over the incumbent governor, Jibrilla Bindow, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 334,995 votes, but the margin of 32,476 votes was lower than the 40,988 votes cancelled in 44 polling units.
According to the “Margin of Lead Principle” contained in Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act and paragraph 41(e) and 43(b) of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines, the commission cannot declare a winner if the number of cancelled votes can mathematically affect the outcome of the election.
The supplementary election will take place only in the polling units where elections were cancelled.