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Cablegate: Not so Instant Replays - Three by-Elections To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

191123Z Dec 03




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: Six months after Nigeria's April/May elections
for President/VP, National Assembly, Governors and State
Assemblies, three races will be re-run on December 20 by
order of election tribunals or the Court of Appeals. A
recent State Assembly by-election caused by death of an
office holder does not bode well for the three re-runs; the
ruling PDP reportedly won with more votes than were cast for
all candidates in a very close election in May. Even if the
other three replays are conducted with fewer faults than they
had in April, the faulty April/May elections issue will not
go away. End Summary.


2. Malumfashi is a Local Government Area (LGA) in the
southern part of northern Nigeria's Katsina State, and the
by-election for a State Assembly seat on November 29 was to
replace the first winner who died in an automobile accident
earlier this year. The ruling PDP won the by-election in a
landslide, receiving approximately 74,000 votes. During the
first election on May 3, however, the PDP won with 53 percent
of the vote when it received only 35,000 votes out of some
67,000 votes cast, i.e. the PDP this time more than doubled
its votes to more than were cast for all candidates in May,
while the ANPP this time only received around a fifth of what
it received in May. The Nigerian media has reported numerous
complaints by the opposition ANPP regarding the election,
including PDP thugs barring access to voting sites and
physically assaulting ANPP agents, and the closing of some
polling stations after just 30 minutes. The PDP,s official
response to these allegations was that the ANPP were just
poor losers.

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3. One of the highlights of the December 20 by-elections will
be for the Borno North Senate seat in the National Assembly,
one of only three Senate elections overturned by election
tribunals so far. On April 12, PDP Senator Sanusi Daggash
was declared a winner over ANPP candidate Fati Bulama with a
victory margin of 118 votes. Bulama filed with the state
election tribunal, alleging numerous electoral malpractices.
In July, the tribunal ruled in favor of Bulama. Daggash then
filed suit with the Appeals Court, alleging that candidate
Bulama had previously been indicted for fraud and was
ineligible to run for office. The Appeals Court ruled in
November that Bulama was ineligible, that Daggash's election
was tainted by massive irregularities in the voting, and that
there be a by-election without Bulama as a candidate. As
Daggash had originally been declared the winner in April, he
was sworn in as a Senator in May and served in this capacity
until December 10, when the Senate's PDP leadership
intervened to order Daggash to vacate his seat and prepare
for the election.


4. Abuja's only Senate seat in the National Assembly was also
overturned by an election tribunal after incumbent PDP
Senator Isa Maina was originally declared the winner in
April. The election tribunal ruled in favor of ANPP
candidate Ireti Kingibe that several wards were not counted
in the announced vote. Maina, who also was sworn in as
Senator in May and maintained the seat until told to vacate
on December 10, filed with the Court of Appeals. The Court
refused to overturn the first tribunal's decision and
scheduled a re-run in the disputed wards for December 20.
Only PDP and ANPP will be on the ballot, as the court ruled
that all the other parties received too few votes in the
un-contested wards for the contested wards to make a
difference. The Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) has announced that it will not use "ad-hoc staff,"
locals hired on the spot to administer an election, due to
the complaints that they usually tended to be the staff of
political parties and kingpins seeking to use their INEC
positions to influence the election.


5. In an upcoming by-election in Zaria in Kaduna State, also
scheduled for December 20, the Appeals Court disqualified the
ANPP candidate who was originally declared the winner. INEC
has interpreted the ruling to mean that no candidate from the
ANPP should be allowed to contest the by-election. After
protests from the party, INEC announced that the ANPP must
get an official clarification from the Appeals Court
regarding the language of its ruling before they will be
allowed to contest. To date, the Appeals Court has not done


6. The GON announced that more than half of all the positions
elected in April/May were contested at the tribunals. More
than 85 percent of the suits were thrown out by the tribunals
for technical reasons, such as a typo in the address of the
lawyer for one side. Six months later, this handful that
survived processing by the courts will renew interest in the
problems of the April/May elections instead of putting those
issues to bed -- even if the three by-elections are conducted
in an exemplary manner.

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