As electoral litigations alter membership composition in Senate…

Four out of the 109 Senators across party lines , have so far been affected by  declarative judgements made by Judges from the various Appeal Courts on elections’ litigations brought  before them. Taiye Odewale reports on how the judgements may alter the membership composition in the Senate on party basis.

As it has always been from the 5th Senate in  2003 , litigations against electoral victories of some elected Senators by their challengers , use to alter membership composition on party basis with the 8th Senate , having the highest number of casualties from such scenarios.

For record purposes , 10 hitherto elected  Senators were yanked off through the process in the 8th Senate , altering the 60- 49 membership composition between those elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) and their counterparts on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in favour of APC Senators.

The affected elected Senators then , were Amori Ighoyota (PDP Delta Central) , sent packing by Ovie Omo- Agege then of the Labour Party , who later defected to APC, Uche Lillian Ekwunife ( PDP Anambra Central ), replaced by Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA).

Others were , Achonu Nneji (PDP Imo North), replaced by Benjamin Uwajumogu of the APC,  Mohammed Ohiare ( APC Kogi Central) replaced by Ahned Ogembe of the PDP, George Thompson Sekibo ( PDP Rivers East) replaced by Andrew Uchendu of the APC and Olaka Johnson Nwogu ( PDP Rivers South East ) displayed  by Magnus Abe of the APC.

Also in the category, were Senators Marafa Bashir Abba ( PDP Taraba Central) replaced by Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf of the APC , Abubakar Sani Danladi ( PDP Taraba North ) , displayed by Isa Shuaibu Lau of the PDP, Abdulrahman Abubakar ( APC Kogi East ) , displayed by Isaac Alfa of the PDP and Salihu Hussain Egye ( APC Nasarawa South ), sent packing by Suleiman Adokwe of the PDP.

While outcomes of such litigations favoured APC Senators in the 8th Senate , the reverse seems to be the case with the unfolding scenario in the 9th Senate. 

Out of the four affected seats so far, two are still redeemable,  namely Kogi West  occupied by Senator Dino Melaye of the PDP before rerun election was ordered by the Appeal Court between him and the litigant, Smart Adeyemi of the APC and Akwa Ibom North West occupied by Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP who is to slug it out again with his closest challenger,  Godswill Akpabio of the APC as ordered by the Appeal Court in Calabar three days ago. 

The other affected two seats that are irredeemably lost ,were hitherto occupied by APC Senators namely  Adedayo Adeyeye of  Ekiti South displayed via the Court ruling by Biodun Olujimi of the PDP and Tambuwal Abubakar Shehu of the Sokoto South Senatorial District now sent packing by Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba of the PDP .

Although if APC candidates win in the two rerun elections ordered so far, it will be 2-2 draw for both parties in terms of casualties but while such a scenario is possible in Kogi West since fresh elections will be conducted in the entire seven local governments of the Senatorial District ; it largely seems impossible in Akwa Ibom North West where the rerun election is billed for one out of the entire 10 local government councils of the Senatorial District.

Besides , going by available figures on ground , Ekpenyong of the PDP has surplus votes of 68, 886 to his advantage , having scored 136,373 votes in the February 23, 2019 National Assembly election as against 67, 487 garnered by Akpabio.

Apparently turning the rerun election to fulfilment of righteousness ahead of its conduct, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ) , in a statement on Sunday , said the Appeal Court judgement ordering for fresh election in Essien Udim Local Government , vindicated it over decision taken in February as regards cancellation of votes from the local government. 

According to the electoral body , the fact that neither the Elections ‘ Petitions Tribunal nor the Appeal Court , upturned any of the results announced from the remaining Nine local government councils of the Senatorial District, shows that results announced by it were credible.

“We are most vindicated with the rerun election ordered in Essien Udim Local Government Council where Senator Akpabio hails from,  because the 61,000 votes brought from the area in his favour after the election in February as against 19,000 votes actually cast by voters , was unacceptable “, declared the electoral body .

Even if the 61,000 votes are allowed to be added to 67,487 he eventually scored , there will still be deficit of 7, 886 votes to meet up with 136, 373 votes scored by Ekpenyong of the PDP.

However , regardless of whereever pendulum of victories swing to , between APC and PDP candidates in the two Senatorial rerun elections ordered so far; both parties will still retain their comfortable membership positions in the 9th Senate along the lines of majority and minority parties .

Before the judgements, APC controls  64 seats , PDP 44 and the remaining one seat by the YPP , occupied by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Anambra South Senatorial District.

The worst scenario that may happen to the APC membership status in the Senate in the aftermath of PDP candidates wining the slated rerun for Kogi West and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts, is for its controlled seats to reduce from 64 to 62 that it was, at the  inauguration of the 9th Senate on Tuesday , June 11, 2019, with attendant  increase of those of the PDP from 44 to 46.  

It would be recalled that at inauguration of the 9th Senate , APC had 62 Senators , PDP 44 and YPP 1.

But the APC membership status increased to 64 when the courts in separate rulings between June and July, ordered INEC to issue Certificates of Return to Senators Rochas Okorocha ( Imo West) and Benjamin Uwajumogu ( Imo North). 

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