Prof. Mahmood Yakub
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has perfected plans to further cancel elections in 15 out of the 20 local government areas of Bauchi state
Similarly, a leaked document from the Bauchi state INEC office revealed the details of the plan to widen the scope of result cancellation beyond Tafawa Balewa LGA to cover 14 more LGAs, a development that would increase the total votes cancelled from 70,000 to 184,552, covering a total of 230 Polling Units in 15 LGAs.
there is a growing concern over the INEC’s alleged move, even as the results of 19 LGAs had already been collated and announced without any incident of cancellations on Sunday, March 10, 2019.
The stakeholders cited two incidences that give credence to the credibility of their claim in the disputed Tafawa Balewa LGA elections, citing the case of Kano state governorship elections in Nasarawa state where the collation was disrupted but the INEC had to resort to a manual generation of the results.
It would be recalled that a similar incident had occurred during the February 23 Presidential election in Katagum local government of Bauchi state when the Collation Officer discovered that the result sheet for the presidential election was missing.
According to reports, all party agents and electoral officers unanimously agreed to record the result on another form which was accepted by the commission and collated as part of the result from the state.
Recall that on Sunday, March 10, the INEC had declared the governorship election in the state as inconclusive, following cancellation of election result of Tafawa Balewa LGA of the state.
The INEC Returning Officer in the state, Prof Mohammed Kyari, while giving reasons for the cancellation, cited the inability of the Collation Officer for the LGA, Dominion Anosike, to use a prescribed form for the recording of the results.
However, in her presentation before the commission, Mrs Anosike said that the result sheet for the governorship election was carted away by thugs who invaded the Collation Center in Zwall, Tafawa Balewa LGA in the early hours of Sunday.
Consequently, according to her, all stakeholders in the election at the collation center unanimously agreed to collate the results on another form.
She further noted that following the decision, stakeholders jointly wrote and signed an explanatory memorandum to the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the state Returning Officer.
She added that the memorandum was submitted to theResident Electoral Commissioner and the state Returning Officer on arrival at the commission office in Bauchi on Sunday.
However, the state Returning Officer, Mr Kyari unilaterally ruled that there was no election in Tafawa Balewa and, therefore, canceled the results therefrom.
This is even as the collation officer had informed the commission that there was no incident of cancellation, violence or electoral malpractices at both the polling units and wards levels, our correspondent gathered.
Decision might be coming as an afterthought, especially having realized that rerun in one local government would not favour the ruling APC.
Besides, the LGA in contention, which is Tafawa Balewa, is said to be a stronghold of the PDP.
Before the cancellation, the collated results of Tafawa Balewa LGA shows that the PDP scored 40,000 votes against the APC’s 29,000, an indication that shows the PDP leading with about 15,000 votes.
In totality, the PDP’s Bala Mohammed was leading the incumbent governor, M.A Abubakar of the APC with over 4,000 votes after results of 19 LGAs were collated.
It would also be recalled that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had on Monday in Bauchi raised an alarm, saying that he had been reliably informed that the INEC was planning to cancel votes in other LGAs even after all collations were made with no incidents.
However, a recent intervention by the INEC at the national level, following a review of the conduct of the governorship elections held in 29 states, may likely shut the door on the plan by the Bauchi Resident Electoral Commissioner and Returning Officer to cancel elections in the 15 Bauchi LGAs.
The INEC, in a statement by its national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed that it had fixed March 23 as the date for rerun elections in the states that were declared inconclusive.
With particular reference to Bauchi state, the commission disclosed that it had set up a fact-finding committee headed by a National Commissioner to investigate the issues around the cancellation of only Tafawa Balewa LGA election.
Mr Okoye said: “Furthermore, the commission has considered a report submitted by the resident electoral commissioner (REC) for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation at the Tafawa Balewa local government area collation centre, which led to the cancellation of results for the entire local government.
“The commission found that there are issues that need further investigation and has set up a team led by a national commissioner to resolve them,” Mr Okoye added.