By Emmanuel Oloniruha/Wandoo Sombo
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected a Federal High Court, Abuja order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from resuming collation of result of Bauchi state governorship election.
However, the Court, will on March 21 commence hearing on the objection of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to its order, stopping the commission from continuing with collation and announcement of the results of the polls.
The PDP stated its rejection of the order in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Court had, on Tuesday, barred INEC from resuming collation and announcement of the election result.
Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order following an ex parte application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Gov. Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi state.
Ologbondiyan described the order as part of the plot by the APC and “some compromised elements” in INEC to escalate crisis and derail the country’s electoral process.
“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,” he said.
Ologbondiyan cautioned that if what it described as desperate underhand measure to halt electoral processes is not checked, the country’s hard earned democracy would fail.
“Our party should not be pushed into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar exparte orders to halt statutory processes at various levels.
“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,” he said.
Ologbondiyan urged INEC to be properly guided by the law in that regard.
“Nigerians have elected the PDP in Bauchi state and nothing can change this reality,” he said
Justice Ekwo, on Tuesday, while restraining INEC from taking further action in any matters relating to the governorship election conducted in Bauchi on March 9, 2019, had in his bench ruling fixed March 21, for hearing of all issues relating to the governorship polls.
However, in a counter affidavit filed by the electoral umpire deposed to by one Hassan Adamu, INEC insisted that the Federal High Court had no jurisdiction to dabble into a post-election litigation.
The counter affidavit specifically stated that the matter of post election was exclusively for the Election Petition Tribunal and not any regular court including the Federal High Court.
The electoral body further stated that the decision of the Returning Officer in respect of declaration of scores and return of candidate was the exclusive reserve of an Election Petition Tribunal.
INEC maintained that although the governorship election in Bauchi State was declared inconclusive, it however rescinded its decision based on facts that emerged later.
According to INEC, any grievance arising from that rests with the Election Petition Tribunal.
Mr Ahmed Raji, (SAN) Counsel to APC and Bauchi state Governor, Mr Mohammed Abubakar told Justice Ekwo that the counter affidavit and notice of objection to the suit of his client had just been served on him.
Raji said that he needed a short adjournment to respond to the counter affidavit and the notice of objection.