The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Femi Saheed of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of Saturday’s by-election for Kosofe constituency 2 of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Iyinola Oni, INEC Local Government Collation Officer for the by-election in Kosofe, declared the result at the collation centre in Agidi Comprehensive School, Agbonyi-Ketu at 5.35 a.m. on Sunday.

According to Mr Oni of the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, the APC candidate polled 12,494 votes to beat his closest rival, Sikiru Alebiosu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who got 2,068 votes.

He said that AA got 31, votes, ADC, 90 votes, AAC 97, LP 21, NNPP 14 and NRM 8 out of the 15,124 total votes cast in the state constituency by-election.

The winner, Femi Saheed, told NAN after he was declared the winner that he would ensure good representation to his people.

A file photo of INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

President Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for another five-year term.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, confirmed this in a statement on Tuesday.

Adesina disclosed that President Buhari had nominated Professor Yakubu for an appointment as INEC chairman for a second and final term in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

He explained that the President’s action was in accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

Professor Yakubu’s reappointment is, however, subject to approval by members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

“I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the letter.

He first appointed the INEC chairman to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after he assumed the office of the President.

Since the appointment of Professor Yakubu who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC has conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his deputy Philip Shaibu have been presented a certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu is also at the party’s national secretariat for the exercise.

The event which is being attended by the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus also has in attendance, Governor Bala Mohammed, chairman of the Edo electoral panel and members of the committee.

In his brief remark, Governor Bala Mohammed recounted the events leading to the voluntary withdrawal from the race by the aspirants, noting that they all pledged their commitment to work with Obaseki.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to the conduct the 2020 governorship election in Edo State on Saturday, 19th September 2020.

The electoral umpire has already commenced the distribution of election materials to the various local government areas in the state ahead of the actual voting process.

Fourteen candidates and political parties will be participating in the election as confirmed by INEC in a statement made available to newsmen by INEC Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.

The incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be slugging it out with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 12 other candidates.

Below is a full list of candidates and their political parties;

1. EDEMAKHIOTA GODWIN OSAIMIAMIA – AA

2. MABEL AKOMU OBOH – ADC

3. IBOI LUCKY EMMANUEL – ADP

4. OSAGIE ANDREW IZE-IYAMU – APC

5. OSAGIE LUCKY IDEHEN – APGA

6. AMOS OSALUMESE ARELOEGBE – APP

7. IGBINEWEKA OSAMUEDE – APM

8. OSIFO UHUNEKPENMA ISAIAH – LP

9. AGOL EBUN TRACY – NNPP

10. STEVIE NASH OZONO – NRM

11. GODWIN NOGHEGHASE OBASEKI – PDP

12. FELIX IZEKOR OBAYANGBON – SDP

13. OSAGIOBARE JONES – YPP

14. AKHALAMHE AMIEMENOGHENA – ZLP

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Ahead of the governorship poll,  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is conniving with leaders of the APC in the state to  doctor  the list of Electoral Officers and ad-hoc staff. 

The PDP National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan,  who stated this at an interaction with journalists, yesterday,  in Abuja,  also alleged that some officials of the electoral body are cloning Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in connivance with leaders of the APC.

Consequently,  Ologbondiyan challenged the INEC chairman,  Mahmood Yakubu,  to speak out on what  role  the National Commissioner fingered in the alleged doctoring of the list of electoral officers, will be playing in the governorship poll.

According to him,  “We have information and we want INEC to speak out on the allegation that one of its National Commissioners … been  used to manipulate SPOs and Local government POs in respect of the election of September 19 and we are challenging Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to speak out on this matter.

“ It is not enough for one character to sit down in Edo State and point accusing fingers. We are talking about what we have heard especially as it concerns manipulation in INEC and we are asking Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud to speak to it.

“We also have information that INEC working in cohort with the APC and their candidate is going to allow for the use of cloned PVC on the day of the election; we have all these allegations and we want to assure the people of Edo State that the PDP is following up and seeking strategies to neutralise all these game plans.”

The PDP spokesman however boasted  that its gubernatorial candidate,  Governor Godwin Obaseki,  will win the  Edo governorship poll  overwhelmingly that the APC  candidate,  Osagie Ize-Iyamu will be “afraid “ to challenge the results at the tribunal.

Ologbondiyan noted that,  “If you have been following the campaign, you will discover that the candidate of the PDP is widely accepted. It is not easy as a politician for you to be able to move from ward to ward. But Obaseki has moved around 192 wards and as we speak, campaign is going on. The APC cannot campaign. They do not have followership. They have not people who are working for them and as such, they are only ready for violence.

While it is not clear to what level the gladiators and their supporters are willing to take their desperation, it is, however, obvious that they are ready to do anything to get to power.

The fact that the PDP candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, fell out with his benefactor and former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, who orchestrated his rise to power before Obaseki defected to the PDP has also added to the tension being experienced in the run off to the election. In a bizarre turn of events, Obaseki was denied the APC ticket and he quickly defected to the PDP in order to realise a second term in office, which he says, is non-negotiable.

With Oshiomhole now backing Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, his former adversary, who picked the APC ticket, it is obvious that Edo State will witness the mother of all battles on September 19.

Residents are worried that the division caused by the acrimonious campaign is unprecedented in the history of the state and they fear that it is capable of degenerating into a political war if the provision of security is not taken seriously.

Some of the allegations both parties are levelling against each other can be termed as absurd with character assassination becoming the order of the day. They have resorted into mudslinging instead of running issue-based campaigns. All these have heightened fears that a major crisis may be brewing as the day of reckoning for the candidates approaches.

However, the Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Johnson Alalibo, allayed such fear and called on the parties and their supporters to eschew violence, while assuring that INEC was ready to deliver the best election under the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “The second document that was developed by INEC in conducting elections under COVID-19 dwells on security agencies and their conduct. So, they have already been trained in how to handle the voters in conjunction with the ad hoc staff and other personnel, who will be on the ground on election day. There are sufficient measures to ensure that they comply with the protocol to stem any disruptive act on that day.

“INEC makes the policies in line with Section 95 of the Electoral Act that outlaws any violent language at campaigns; the enforcement of those laws is purely in the hands of the security agencies. We can only draw their attention to the infractions or breach of the law.

“What INEC is doing is that we are conducting elections under the COVID-19 pandemic and there is a shift in paradigm from the old ways of conducting elections to a new way; we have introduced other issues that we have to take care of, especially the health and security concerns as regards conducting elections.”

The REC stated that social distancing would be strictly adhered to with voting expected to commence early in the morning and close by 2.30pm.

The state Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, stated that there would be a synergy among the security agencies as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, was in touch with other security chiefs for the election.

He said training was being carried out to get the security operatives ready on land, in the air and on the sea, adding, “I wish to assure the INEC chairman and other stakeholders that we will do all within our powers to provide a conducive environment to conduct a free, fair and credible governorship election in Edo State on September 19.”

The acting Chairman of the APC in the state, Col. David Imuse (retd.), alleged that the pattern of violence had been one way, accusing the PDP of orchestrating the unrest being recorded in the past one year.

He said, “If you look at the pattern of violence in the state over the last one year, it has been one sided. You don’t need a soothsayer to tell you who the perpetrators of these criminal acts are; it is the ruling party and its supporters. So, we have made this point clear to the security agencies and it is their responsibility to carry out investigation and apprehend those responsible. The security agencies should do their job to make Edo State safe for a peaceful election.

“This is not a conventional war when you see your political opponents as enemies. But due to desperation to cling on to power, some people will go out of their way to carry out actions that are unlawful. And that is why we report incidents of this nature to the police. It is their responsibility to detect crime, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice. What we need to do as members of the public is to give information to the police that will assist them in carrying out their job and that is what we have been doing in the APC.

“No politician seeking political office will tell you that the position he is seeking is non-negotiable. There is nothing like that, because politics is based on negotiation and interaction. So, the PDP should know that no position is non-negotiable.”

The state Publicity Secretary, PDP, Chris Nehikhare urged INEC and the security agencies to be transparent, while wondering why the polity was so charged as this was not the first time an election was being held in the country.

He stated, “This is not the first time an election is being held in the country. We want a situation where there will be transparency not on the part of INEC alone, but from the security agencies, whose duty is to protect lives and property as well as the integrity of the ballot and the electorate.

“This is very important to us the people of Edo State. So, we expect that people are not victimised, intimidated and anybody caught with arms should be dealt with according to the law, while nobody should be threatened by security agents or members of another party.

“The arms build up is a narrative being put forward by the other party to try to have the election postponed by creating an atmosphere of confusion and insecurity. It is their imagination that arms are being built up; we encourage them to go to the police and show them where arms are being stock-pilled.

“I can tell you that the arms build-up narrative is to prevent people from coming out to vote on election day. That plan will fail and people will come out and vote. They are scaring the people from voting, because they are threatened by the margin they will be defeated by.

“The security agencies should be alert and do their job fairly and freely without bias as well as improve their intelligence gathering. If our competitors have intelligence, I will advise them to share it with the security agencies.”

The National Orientation Agency, Edo State Directorate, is also playing its part to ensure that a credible election is held in the state. The Head of the directorate, Mrs Grace Eseka, enjoined the political parties and their supporters not to see the election as a war that must be won at all cost.

Eseka stated, “We are appealing to everyone to take responsibility and do the right thing. An election is not a war. We are all brothers and sisters and we will come together after the election. So, we have to vote accordingly and avoid fights. Voters should not come with branded face masks that may be seen as campaign materials and this can trigger unrest.

“The people should stay in the queue, while they wait to cast their votes. In Edo, we are peaceful people, so we should go and vote peacefully and return to our houses in peace.”

She also said that the agency, through its community relation officers in the 18 local government areas of the state, was going from street to street and telling people what should be done to have a credible election.

The NOA official stated, “We are preaching peaceful elections and urging voters not to sell their votes and thumb-print appropriately so their votes will count. We have also gone to critical stakeholders like the traditional rulers, religious leaders, market heads and motor parks.

“The message we are also taking to them is that COVID-19 is real and so, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s protocols should be adhered to. We are also appealing to politicians to avoid hate speeches and should not cause tension and adhere to the NCDC protocols when they are campaigning.”