A Senator under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing the Adamawa North Senatorial District Ishaku Abbo, has reiterated that according to the Electoral Act as amended in 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the power to nullify or invalidate an already declared result from an election.
Abbo stated this during a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, a day after INEC suspended the collation of the Adamawa State supplementary governorship poll despite results declared for 10 of 20 local government areas (LGAs).
“INEC cannot nullify an election that has been announced, they don’t have that power. Elections have been announced, it is out of their hands,” the Senator said.
His words reechoed those of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kelvin Nwofo, who affirmed that only the election petition tribunal is empowered to cancel already declared results.
Nwofo added that any grievance in the electoral process during the collation stage can only be addressed by a regular court and not a tribunal because tribunals are activated only when results are declared.
“The settled position of the law is that INEC does not have any powers to cancel already declared results even if there are valid cases of irregularities.
“This is because it has been held in ABANA vs. OBI (2004) and in a plethora of cases, that once the result has been declared, a winner announced and Form EC8E issued, it is only the tribunal and not INEC that has the legal right to cancel or nullify the declaration,” the senior lawyer said citing Section 68 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
The section reads: “The decision of the returning officer on any question arising from or relating to – (a) unmarked ballot paper; (b) rejected ballot paper; and (c) declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate, shall be final subject to review by a tribunal or court in an election petition proceedings under this Act.”
Additionally, Section 149 states: “Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act, any defect or error arising from any actions taken by an official of the Commission in relation to any notice, form, or document made or given or other things done by the official in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, or any rules made thereunder remain valid, unless otherwise challenged and declared invalid by a competent court of law or tribunal”.