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The Election that Produced David Mark Was Free and Fair, INEC Officer Speaks Out

Yemi Adebowale

Professor Latif Tiamiyu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer who conducted the election that saw the emergence of Senator David Mark has said that the election he conducted was free and fair.

In a chat with SIGNAL on Sunday, Prof. Tiamiyu disclosed that he decided to speak out to maintain his integrity. “I have an integrity to protect and I am ready defend it at anytime. The election was peacefully conducted on March 28th. We started collation through March 29th and 30th when the result was declared”, Prof. Tiamiyu said.

Speaking further, he noted that the contention that results were announced while collation was still going on is not correct. “I never announced the results while collation was still going on. That didn’t happen. All the results from the nine local government areas were completely collated before I announced the results. I have an integrity to protect so I am ready to defend that at anytime.” Prof. Tiamiyu insisted for emphasis.

The Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, annulled the election of the immediate past Senate President, Senator David Mark, ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh elections in the Benue South senatorial district within 90 days.

Mark’s victory at the March 28th, 2015 National Assembly elections, was challenged by Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who petitioned the Benue state Legislative Houses elections tribunal asking for the cancellation of the election and an order detailing INEC to conduct fresh election in the district.

The Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu led trial panel had on October 7th, 2015 dismissed Onjeh’s petition on the ground that evidences tendered before the tribunal were documentary hearsay evidences.

However, in a unanimous judgment read by Justice Peter Ige, the appellate court dismissed the judgment of the tribunal and upheld the plea of the appellant.

Meanwhile, the former Senate President, David Mark has assured that Benue South Senatorial zone will remain impenetrable for the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, in the forthcoming re-run election.

He based his optimism on the overwhelming solidarity and support “by my people who are solidly behind me . I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that there is no opposition to my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in my zone.”

Speaking when the Senate caucus of the PDP paid him a solidarity visit following the annulment of his March 28, 2015 Senatorial election, Mark assured that the Appeal tribunal verdict has strengthened him and his constituents the more.

A statement issued on Sunday by Paul Mumeh, the Media Assistant to the Senator, quoted Mark as saying: “The Appellate tribunal judgement came as a surprise to me.

But I am happy there is opportunity for a rerun election. I can assure you that any day, any time, my people will vote for me.

“Benue South Senatorial zone is totally a PDP arrear. One Senator, the four House of Representative members, 10 out of 11 state House of Assembly members are all members of the PDP. So, clearly, there is no room for APC or any other party in my area.

“Be rest assured that under a free and fair contest, I have no challenger. My people would not be cowed or intimidated to do otherwise.

“I respect the ruling of the Appeal Tribunal, but let no one be deceived by any gimmick that the result of the election was declared while collation was still on. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer Professor Latif Tiamiyu who announced the result three days after the election, a university Professor is alive.

The election was conducted on March 28, 2015, the result was declared on March 30, 2015, how could the result have been declared before the final collation?

“For me, it is one of those ironies of life. I take it in good faith. I know as a matter of fact that my people will rise up to the challenge to vote for me and defend their votes”.

 

 

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