The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to issue a certificate of return to Orji Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, who was controversially declared winner of a senatorial election in the state last month.
The commission listed Mr Kalu as one of the 100 senators-elect from the February 23 election who would be issued return certificates at a ceremony scheduled for Thursday morning in Abuja.
But the results released by INEC for the Abia North Senatorial District showed that Mr Kalu did not win the election outright and should not have been declared winner by the returning officer.
Mr Kalu polled 31,201 votes, according to Charles Anumudu, the INEC returning officer for the district, while incumbent senator, Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), scored 20,801 votes in the election.
However, 38,526 votes were cancelled during the exercise, a number significantly greater than the margin of 10,400 between Messrs Kalu and Ohuabunwa.
A key guideline for electoral officers required that no winner can be declared in an election in which number of cancelled votes is greater than the margin between the first-two highest votes scorers.
INEC has widely applied the guideline in this year’s cycle, using cancelled results to trigger dozens of re-runs, including in six governorship polls.
The Ondo South Senatorial District election was declared inconclusive because the margin of victory was 27,036 against cancelled votes of 28,047.
The PDP’s candidate, Nicholas Tofowomo, had scored 79,029 against APC’s Yele Omogunwa who scored 51,993 votes. Even though it did not make any difference, since only 1,011 votes were at play, INEC, nonetheless followed through on its guideline and held a re-run before declaring Mr Tofowomo winner.
But the 38,526 cancelled votes in Abia North could decide the winner between Messrs Kalu Ohuabunwa in a re-run.