ENUGU, Nigeria, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A Nigerian court annulled the election of a state governor on Friday in the sixth such ruling since flawed and violent polls last April.
The tribunal in the southeastern state of Enugu cancelled the election of Governor Sullivan Chime and his deputy on the grounds of gross electoral malpractice and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, Justice Samuel Otta said.
Last year’s elections were supposed to be a democratic watershed for Africa’s most populous nation, marking the first handover from one civilian president to another. But fraud and violence were so widespread that European Union observers said the results were not credible.
“The non-compliance got to the foundation of the whole process of election and rendered the whole exercise null and void,” Otta said, adding that most voters were disenfranchised by the electoral body’s failure to distribute voting materials.
“The governorship election of 2007 in Enugu state is hereby nullified,” he said, ordering a new election within 90 days.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner of 28 out of 36 state governorship elections, and President Umaru Yar‘Adua was declared winner of the presidential poll with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Hundreds of results are being challenged at election tribunals. Yar‘Adua has promised not to interfere and has set up a reform committee to recommend ways to bring elections up to international standards.
The courts have now overturned six state elections that gave the PDP victory. One of those governors was ejected from office because the court ruled that his predecessor, from the opposition, had not finished his term.
Three affected governors have filed appeals and analysts expect Chime to do likewise, which means he would keep his job until the appeal is decided. (Writing by Tume Ahemba, editing by Tom Ashby and Elizabeth Piper)