Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:19 pm
Should a winner have been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in what it called an ‘inconclusive’ governorship election in Taraba state on 11 April?
Should the results of some polling units or local councils, said to have registered serious infractions of the electoral law, have been cancelled?
Former Nigerian vice-president Atiku Abubakar and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha have different views.
While Abubakar welcomed INEC’S position on the Taraba stalemate, he went further to urge the electoral Commission to replace all the electoral officials and securitymen implicated in the conduct of the election.
Atiku acknowledged widespread reports of irregularities in some local governments of the state.
“These irregularities included using armed personnel to intimidate voters,” Atiku said.
The former Vice President alleged that armed soldiers were attached to Senator Emmanuel Bwacha; Joel Ikenya, a current minister; as well as Senator Anthony Manzo, chief of staff to senator David Mark.
He said these soldiers engaged in brazen acts that violated the electoral act including ballot box snatching.
Atiku said, “Elections should not be militarised, Nigeria is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Citizens should be able to go out and vote without fear of being threatened with the nuzzle of a gun.”
He added that such election violations were noticeably perpetrated in Southern Taraba, specifically in Wukari, Takum, Kurmi and Donga lGAs as well as the North, particularly in Lau and Yoro, where Manzo comes from.
Atiku noted that troops were deployed in these areas and electoral officers were heavily compromised.
On his part, the Senator, representing Southern Taraba, Mr. Emmanuel Bwacha, faulted the cancellation of results in some local government areas of the state and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Darius Ishaku, the winner of the poll.
Bwacha, who briefed newsmen in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, on Wednesday, said the declaration of the election as inconclusive was wrong and unlawful.
The senator also faulted the action of the Returning Officer for Taraba State, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, in cancelling the result of Donga Local Government Area.
He explained that Ishaku won the election in nine LGAs with 317,198 votes, while Senator Aisha Alhassan of the All Progressives Congress won in six councils, scoring 262,386 votes to place second, giving a margin of win of 54,812 votes.
Bwacha accused Kyari of bias, saying the returning officer was cancelling the results with an ulterior motive to ensure APC won the election.
The Senator said, “The results of 20 polling units in Bali were rejected but Kyari did not cancel the entire results, but hastened to cancel the entire result of 165 polling units in Donga, when only five polling units had problems.
“Let me say, without any fear of contradiction, that the action of the INEC’s returning officer for Taraba State (Prof. Kyari) has put a question mark on the process in the state.
“This is because he has no powers, under the law, to cancel the election of Donga LGA.
“Now, if he had acted in error by cancelling the result, all he should have done was to call for the acceptance of the result, entered the result figures and announced what we had on the grounds.
“He has no reason, whatsoever, to cancel the results. And having been told that he acted in error, he decided to ask us to go back for them to conduct a fresh election.”
Meanwhile INEC has rescheduled all the fresh elections in Taraba, Imo and Abia states to 25 April.
*From reports by Punch online