â€¢ Panel didnâ€™t indict state, says governor
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will next Thursday make public the outcome of the investigative panel tasked to unravel the truth over allegations that its voter register in Kano State contains name of underage persons.
A source at the INECâ€™s headquarters said yesterday that study on the report of probe panel headed by a National Commissioner, Abubakar Nahuche, had been completed and that the commissionâ€™s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is expected to meet with all the commissioners next Thursday before making the report public.
Â But the Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje, has said the INECâ€™s investigative panel could not establish any case of underage voting in the state.Â
THISDAY gathered that the commission had delayed its verdict in order to study the report carefully and make wide consultations on the matter.
On the assertion made by Kano State governor that the report did not indict his state, the INECâ€™s top official said the commission has not come out with any verdict yet, adding that the governor is entitled to his opinion.
INEC Chairman, Yakubu, had constituted an eight-member committee headed by NahucheÂ to investigate the allegations of over aged voters in Kano and KatsinaÂ States.
He said the terms of references of the committee would be to ascertain if the voter register requested by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission was actually used in the local council election; to investigate wide spread report that persons below the statutory age of 18 years voted using INEC register.
Against the background of widespread concerns by Nigerians over video clips trending in the social media which showed children far below voting age allegedly queuing up to cast their votes in Kano State, Ganduje said his officials were able to prove toÂ the panel that nothing of such happened.
Speaking with journalists at the weekend in Abuja, Ganduje said contrary to insinuations that child voters participated in the last local government election held in the state, there was no underage voters that voted.
He said verifiable evidence showed that the video clips being referred to were actually fake and had nothing to do with the state.Â
Concerning theÂ video clips trending, he said it was a hypothetical and artificial election that was created just to tarnish their image.
â€œIt is rather a photo shop. We did not use the card reader and yet the child in the video clip was using a card reader. INEC came and did not find anything on the alleged underage voting. As far as we are concerned, there was nothing like underage voting in Kano State. It is the handwork of people who are out to blackmail our administration.Â
â€œI challenge any one who feels aggrieved about the Kano State local council election to the court or the tribunal to prove any wrong doing. That clip went into the internet in 2015 and we were able to verify that.
â€œI think the answer should come from INEC. But for me, I think the local council elections were the most successful elections in the state.Â
â€œThe chairman of our electoral commission showed them our records and proved to them that the clip was taken some years back. We used our ICT experts to find out the first time that clip went into the internet. We discovered that the clip first went into the internet in 2015 because you can always verify that.Â
â€œSo, I want to assure you that there was no underage voting in Kano State. It was a kind of blackmail, and anybody who is in doubt about the credibility of the election should go to court,â€ he said.
Speaking on the credibility of the local council polls, Ganduje said: â€œWhen you hold a local council election where no one was killed, no building was burnt and several parties also won elections and there was not security crisis during the polls, then such an exercise can be said to successful.â€