Senator Aisha Alhassan, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba state, has called for the total cancellation of the April 11 election and the scheduling of a fresh election in the state. Speaking at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday (16/04/2015), Aisha cited irregularities in 11 local government areas out of 16 in the state as the reason why the election should be canceled.
“As you are very much aware, INEC has declared the governorship election in Taraba state inconclusive, because – according to the electoral commission – the number of canceled votes was more than the difference between the votes gathered by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) candidate, that is my humble self, and Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” she said. “However, that conclusion by INEC does not reflect what really transpired in the said elections, hence the need to bring to the attention of Nigerians, and indeed the global community, the true situation. In many wards cutting across many local governments, the elections did not hold in accordance with INEC guidelines. “Despite several reports, complaints and protests to INEC ( SPOs, EOs, REC and ROs) by our party field officers, myself and the state party chairman on the irregularities while going on and after, at collation levels, INEC failed to react and went ahead to accept most of the flawed results.”
Alhassan listed the affected local governments as Wukari, Kurmi, Yorro, Karim Lamido, Ardo Kola, Sardauna, Zing, Bali, Lau, Donga and Takum, lamenting that it was only after much pressure and complaints at the state collation centre that INEC canceled only the result of Donga local government and some few units in the remaining local governments. She outlined problems with the election in the aforementioned local government areas as widespread non-use of card readers or destruction of the machines, non-accreditation of voters, subversion of the rights of the people to exercise their franchise, use of security agencies in aid of the PDP, kidnap of electoral officials by the PDP with the help of security agencies, ballot stuffing, and collation of results in non-INEC designated areas. She also complained of non-delivery of electoral materials in many parts of the local governments, “apparent” complicity of INEC officials at all levels in the state, they resorted to vote allocations on results sheets, and the violence that led to injuries and loss of lives.”
Giving specific instances in some of the listed local government areas, she said: “At Jibu Ward in Wukari, voting took place in only three out of 27 polling units. At Bantaje Ward, also in Wukari, voting took place in only 11 out of 56 polling units, but results for all the polling units were returned. “In Kurmi, card readers were not used at all and election did not take place. The PDP simply relied on security agencies to rig the polls and write results. In Yorro, voting materials were snatched while residences of PDP officials were used for ballot stuffing and writing results. APC agents were brutally beaten and chased out of voting centers. “In Karim Lamido, the local government of the present acting governor personally, with the aid of his security escorts, spearheaded ballot snatching and abduction of electoral officials. Card readers were not used in many places, APC agents were chased away and results written in favour of the PDP. “In Sardauna, PDP officials colluded with INEC officials to reduce APC governorship votes from 72,584 to 28,860, after having declared the initial result of 72,584 in favour of the APC at the polling units. “And in Takum, APC agents were chased away, with some of them shot at and injured by security agents, card readers were not used and INEC Collation Officers refused to collate results in several Wards. In some wards of Takum LGA like Kashimbila and chanchanji, there was violence and destruction of sensitive materials but results were still returned.
“It is also pertinent to mention the blatantly partisan and shameful role of INEC in the conduct of the gubernatorial election in the state. The resident electoral commissioner never hid his partisanship and bias, as he ignored all our complaints and petitions. “Also, as part of the irregularities, we were reliably informed that one Bala Aji, a native of Wukari local government who heads the ICT unit at the INEC office in Jalingo ( he is the custodian of PVCs, card readers and is responsible for configuring the card readers) issued to the PDP the unclaimed PVCs and card readers to be used for rigging the elections in Wukari and other local governments in favour of the PDP.”
Alhassan asked INEC to set aside the declaration of inconclusive result for Taraba state, saying results of all the areas affected by irregularities in the 11 local governments should be canceled outright, after which a fresh collation should be done and a winner declared. “Alternatively, the result of the entire state should be canceled and a fresh election conducted. This is in view of the widespread irregularities in most of the local government areas of the state,” she said. “In the event that the overall result is canceled and a fresh election ordered, such should not be conducted under the supervision of the current INEC officials in Taraba state, as they have shown sufficient evidence of bias and complicity in the April 11 election. A total overhaul of the INEC in Taraba should be a pre-requisite for any fresh election in the state. “The national headquarters of INEC should immediately launch a probe into the conduct of the April 11 governorship election in Taraba, to ensure that the rights of the people of Taraba state to choose their leaders are not abridged by conniving INEC officials, security and desperate PDP members.
“Finally, considering the partisan posture of the security in the state during the April 11 general election, there should be massive redeployment of officers in the interest of fairness and justice.” Before declaring the election inconclusive, INEC said Alhassan had polled 262,386 votes, while Ishaku’s stood at 317,198. This left a difference of 63,817 between the votes of the two candidates. Meanwhile, more than 100, 000 votes were canceled.
In another unhealthy development, A PDP woman councilor of Tutaki Ward B in Jalingo, the Taraba state capital, was caught yesterday (16/04/2015) with a cache of sophisticated weapons. More details will follow later.
May God save Nigeria and Nigerians. Ameen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.