Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Bauchi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the outcome of the Bauchi South senatorial district by-election held last Saturday due to what it described as electoral malpractices before, during and after the conduct of the exercise.
The state Chairman of the party, Alhaji Hamza Koshe Akuyam, who made the allegations yesterday at a press conference held at the secretariat of the party in Bauchi, said the party was heading for the tribunal to challenge the result of the election.
He further alleged that the state government connived with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security operatives to perpetrate the electoral malpractices.
While describing the exercise as a “mere charade which must not be allowed to hold,” he added that “the elections as conducted were the most scandalous ever in the history of Bauchi State in general and Bauchi South in particular.”
He also alleged that the state government perfected a script on the art and science of electoral rigging, which was carefully rehearsed and executed with active connivance of law enforcement agencies and officials of INEC.”
The PDP chairman also alleged that “vote-buying was not only widespread, but was conducted in the open. The APC-led government in the state openly lured citizens with cash for their votes, which were sold for anything between N100, N200, N500, N1, 000 and some cases, N5, 000 per vote.”
According to him, “Simply put, the ballot paper became the most sought after commodity in the senatorial zone. This shameless act was responsible for the low turnout as voters especially women and youths who refused to vote until they got paid or settled. In some voting centres, security officials chased away voters and agents even before voting process and counting were conducted.”
Akuyam also alleged that the state government officials colluded with voting clerks and other electoral officers to stash boxes with excess votes only to turn around and cancel the boxes on the dubious card reader excuse of over voting.
He alleged further that “in Bauchi council area for instance, 15,000 votes were cancelled due to the so-called over voting. A card reader malfunctioned after tracking a little over 100 PVCs, the card reader stopped working or is topped up by a few votes and would then be seen as over voting as was the case in Birshi and Mun-Munsal where more than 8, 000 votes were needlessly cancelled.”
While citing other electoral malpractices in four other LGA, the PDP chairman lamented that, “this is the first time in our Democratic history that over 80,000 votes were cancelled in an election where only 256,763 votes were cast. We condemn this charade in strongest terms because it was the hatchet job by INEC and the Bauchi state government to deny PDP victory “.
The PDP also alleged that prior to the by-election, officials of the state government distributed forms to unsuspecting citizens, collected their data including PVC numbers stating that, “we believe in some areas the PVCs were preloaded in the card readers. This explains the massive number of votes recorded especially in Toro local government in spite of the low turnout”.