Opinion: Still on the Osun Elections

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Opinion: Still on the Osun Elections

Emmanuel Odimba

Legal Practitioner at Royal-Equity Chambers
Emmanuel Odimba Esq is a legal practitioner and the Managing Partner at Royal-Equity Chambers, Ire-Akari Road, Isolo, Lagos.

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The gubernatorial election held in Osun State on Saturday has once again brought up the issue of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s powers to declare an election as “inconclusive” and the circumstances under which it could so declare.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended clearly spells out the condition under which a governorship candidate can be declared winner of an election.

Section 179(2)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides:

“A candidate for an election to the office of a governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates-
(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election;and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state”.

The constitutional requirement here envisages only votes that were cast and such votes must have been the ones accepted as validly cast. A situation where void votes would determine or have any role to play in an election result is dangerous and can be easily manipulated. The Constitution is Supreme and the Electoral Act or any other law cannot impose any other requirement to the one stipulated by the Constitution as a condition for INEC to declare a candidate elected.

It is understandable where elections are cancelled completely due to one reason or the other since the people have to be given the opportunity to vote but once voting has taken place, it is votes that were cast and adjudged valid that should determine the result of the election.

If the argument regarding the number of void votes is taken into consideration, what do we say about situations where less than 20 percent of registered voters in a locality are the ones that vote in an election? Is the election declared void or inconclusive because of the number that took part in the election?

It is important that a political party should approach the court for judicial pronouncement on this matter now before the 2019 general elections.

I rest my case.

This post was written by Emmanuel Odimba.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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