|03ABUJA2195||2003-12-23 05:31:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Abuja|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. 230531Z Dec 03
UNCLAS ABUJA 002195
1. After the by-election for the only Abuja Senate seat
conducted on December 20, PDP Senator Isa Maina
retained his seat with an overall victory margin of
1,416 votes (less than one percent of the total).
Maina's original victory margin in April over ANPP
candidate Ireti Kingibe was 1,208 votes. Kingibe
conceded, lamenting the low voter turnout; only about
20 percent of the potential 20,000 voters came out.
Kingibe had protested the original election in April,
arguing successfully before an election tribunal that
results from 23 polling stations had not been counted.
Maina was sworn in as Senator in May and maintained the
seat until told to vacate by Senate PDP leadership on
December 10 in order to prepare for the election.
2. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
conducted the election using its own staff instead of
ad hoc personnel like those hired during the April/May
elections. There was no reported violence, mainly due
to the massive security presence (Embassy observers
counted 10 to 20 security agents at every polling
station). Security agents made as many as a dozen
arrests (mostly for possession of multiple voter
cards), and impounded one bus that allegedly was
transporting persons from another district into the
voting district to vote illegally.
3. COMMENT: INEC's performance in this by-election was
a significant improvement over previous elections. The
Commission was helped by the small number of polling
stations, extremely low voter turnout and massive
security presence. The level of voter apathy
demonstrates that many Nigerians have given up on the
current process of fixing the April/May elections. End