INEC barred from collating, announcing Bauchi election results

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to discontinue its planned conclusion of collation and announcement of results for the Bauchi governorship election held on March 9.

The judge, Inyang Ekwo, made the order based on an ex-parte application instituted by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar.

The restraining order would subsist until the determination of the suit brought before the court by the two plaintiffs.

In the ex-parte motion, the APC and Abubakar prayed for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding or announcing the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State in respect of the governorship election.

The election was initially declared inconclusive by INEC due to incidents in Tafawa Balewa local government area.

INEC later announced that it would proceed with collating and completing the results sourced from backup result sheets, a move Abubakar, who scored the second highest votes in results so far collated, rejected.

The governor wants supplementary polls to be conducted instead. On Monday, he met with President Muhammad Buhari and insisted on challenging INEC’s change of decision in court.

Earlier, Justice Ekwo had ordered INEC to appear before the court to explain why the order sought by the two plaintiffs should not be granted.

But the electoral body’s counsel, Tanimu Inuwa, instead filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Objecting to the application of INEC, the counsel to the plaintiffs, Ahmed Raji, told the court that the order issued on Monday for the electoral body to show cause why the requests of the plaintiffs should not be granted had not been obeyed.

He also told the court that the business before the court was to determine whether the earlier order had been complied with.

In his response, Inuwa admitted that the order had not been obeyed and, asked to address the court orally on the issue. But his request was turned down by the judge.

In its ruling, the court held, “since the ex-parte application was in writing and duly served on INEC, it behoved of the defendant to appear before the court with a written or formal response.”

On this premise, the judge granted the interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding and announcing the governorship election result in the state pending the determination of all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their originating summons.

She also granted accelerated hearing on the matter, and ordered parties in the case to appear before the court on March 20 to present their positions in the substantive matter.

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