On November 12, while collation and declaration was ongoing at the INEC state collation centre in Lokoja, Kogi state, we received a claim that the electoral umpire had fixed November 18 for fresh election in 59 polling units in the state.
Claim: INEC fixes November 18 for fresh polls in 59 polling units in Kogi state
On November 12, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through a National commissioner and a member of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Mohammed Kudu Haruna, announced the suspension of elections in 59 polling units in Kogi state.
Similarly, the Kogi state returning officer, while collating the results of the just concluded gubernatorial election in the state, said that it would conduct fresh elections in 59 polling units where irregularities were recorded.
According to the State Returning Officer, Prof Johnson Urama, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He said fresh polls would be conducted in 59 polling units, including Ogori/Magongo Local Government Area (where we reported pre-filled result sheets) of the state on November 18, 2023.
However, he introduced a condition for the polls to be held in the 59 polling units, saying that “the decision to hold fresh elections is subject to the Returning Officer’s determination of the application of the Margin of Lead Principle”.
Later in the day, when all votes were collated, Prof Urama said he would apply the application of the Margin of Lead Principle.
This principle means that if the margin between the candidate with the highest valid votes and the first runner-up is more than the number of voters where the fresh elections will be held, the fresh polls may no longer be necessary as their vote will be insignificant to change the outcome of the election.
That is, the total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in the affected polling units was put at 16,247, insignificant to the about 200,000 votes gathered by the APC candidate ahead of his closest rival – Ajaka.
The margin of lead implied that the elections initially scheduled by INEC for next Saturday in the 59 polling units would no longer be held.
He went ahead to declare Ahmed Ododo of the APC as the elected governor of Kogi state, having satisfied the requirement of the law and was elected.
Having collated and announced the results from 21 local government areas (LGAs) in the state, Ododo of the APC won with 446,237 votes, defeating his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who scored 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 46,362 votes.
We found that INEC announced that there would be a fresh poll in 59 polling units where the exercise was earlier suspended in Kogi state. However, the state returning officer announced that the polls would no longer be necessary due to his determination of the application of the Margin of Lead Principle.