While the date for the supplementary election of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency in Lagos State is yet to be fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the inconclusiveness of the exercise on February 23, 2019, those in the constituent are getting apprehensive over who will represent them at the 9th National Assembly.
While the incumbent lawmaker and candidate of major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rita Orji, is claiming to have won the election based on the lead she already established with not less than 3,000 votes from the already collated results, her opponent and candidate of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Kolawole Taiwo, a 3-term member of Lagos State House of Assembly, claims there are still over 43,000 votes yet to be counted before the collation was stopped.
Although The Guardian gathered that the commission had called for a stakeholders’ meeting in the area to determine whether a supplementary election should be conducted or the remaining result be declared, Rita is insisting she has won the election based on the already collated results.
She has approached an Abuja High Court in Kubwa under Justice Bello Kawu where she obtained an order that INEC should declare the collated results of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Federal Constituency.
Although, the defendant contested the jurisdiction of the court to determine the election conducted in Lagos State, Orji’s counsel, however, insisted that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case.
Investigations from The Guardian further shows that while Orji is bent on being declared winner, majority of the electorate in the constituency are calling for a supplementary election or that the remaining over 43,000 votes be declared.
While speaking with reporters over the weekend, Taiwo said there was no way Orji could claim to win an election that was declared inconclusive with just 3,000 votes while over 43,000 votes are yet to be counted.”
He wondered why she is shying away from the supplementary election or that the remaining votes be collated and the result declared. “I don’t think it would be right to disenfranchise over 43,000 voters in an election of this magnitude because of the desperation of an individual.”
The APC candidate expressed confidence he would win the supplementary election or peradventure the commission decided to declare the result of the yet-to-be collated votes. He stressed: “The mood of the electorate indicate nothing but the fact that I am their preferred candidate and not a matter of the claim that the area is stronghold of PDP or Igbo catchment area. There are other non-indigenes who are not Igbo in the area and they are all routing for me.”
Taiwo also said one of the assurances he has of trashing his opponent, whatever the case, is that APC won the two seats of the State House of Assembly elections in the last election, coupled with the fact the ruling party won the local government election held in the area in 2017.
“If all these indices are put together, I stand a better chance of winning the election,” he said. “I don’t see reason my opponent is fretting.”
He also stressed that this is the time Ajeromi Ifelodun Federal Constituency needs experience legislative hands to represent it at the federal level putting into consideration the poor representation it has had in the last four years.
But the state’s Publicity Secretary of PDP, Taofik Gani said the party would accept nothing but the declaration of Orji as winner of the election because Ajeromi Ifelodun has always been a stronghold of PDP.
According to him, “The planned supplementary election is dead on arrival because we won the election,” this is just as he accused INEC of collaborating with APC to shortchanged PDP and the electorate in Ajeromi Ifelodun Federal Constituency.”
However, when the spokesman of APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, was contacted he declined to comment, saying the party is waiting for the supplementary election because it declared the February 23 exercise inconclusive, adding, “I wouldn’t want to comment beyond that.”
Efforts to get the commission to react on the issue yesterday were unsuccessful.