By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, yesterday in Abuja accused the electoral panel constituted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to conduct election primaries in Zamfara State of frustrating the success of the elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the week ruled out the possibility of accepting candidates’ names from the Zamfara State chapter of APC, saying the party failed to conduct primaries in the state within the stipulated period.
But Yari while answering questions from journalists in the State House, described INEC claim as untrue, arguing that on October 4 when the primaries were being conducted, there was a pocket of crises in one part of the state which he said made it impossible to conclude the elections that day.
According to him, in view of the development, there was a resolution to continue with the conduct of the poll the following day, pointing out that when it was eventually concluded on October 5, the committee failed to collate the results and disappeared.
“So, the following day, we continued and we concluded the election by the committee set up to conduct election but the committee ran away and refused to collate the results,” he said.
Yari further alleged that before the election was eventually conducted, the electoral panel had already wasted 18 full hours discussing the modalities for its conduct.
He also disclosed that following the non-availability of the committee members to count the results of the election, INEC advised them to begin counting, bearing in mind that party members had come out to vote since 7a.m.
Furthermore, Yari said after the counting, members of the committee re-appeared and when they were challenged on why they came back, they claimed that they only came for reconciliation, alleging that it was at this point he knew that the committee had a hidden agenda.
Insisting that INEC, Civil Defence Corps, Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) witnessed the primaries, Yari said the claim made by the chairman of the electoral panel that there was no election in Zamfara State prompted them to quickly rush to court to file a suit.
He said the suit which would be heard next week had helped to keep hope alive that APC would eventually field candidates for 2019 polls in Zamfara State upon the determination of the suit.
“This was what we were going to do but the committee wasted about 18 hours discussing about the modalities to be taken. So, when we realised that, we were actually advised by the supervisory agency, that is the INEC and other agencies that the best thing to do since people had been out to vote since 7a.m. was to ask them to start counting.
“When they finished, they released the materials and we adopted the numbers. Already, we had produced our own set of forms for the National Assembly elections which we had done and then, when we concluded. I didn’t see members of the committee until one and half hours to the time.
“Then, when they came, I asked them what they came for. They said they came for reconciliation and I said which reconciliation? People cannot reconcile over a month and you are trying to reconcile in an hour.
“Then, I realised that there was a game that was being played so that we could run out of time. And then, maybe, the national body can think they have other ways to produce a candidate which is a crude way because Section 87 is very clear in the Electoral Act that the party must follow a process before producing any candidate.
“Therefore, the most important thing is that we conducted elections on the 3rd and 4th of October and all agencies – INEC, Civil Defence, Police, and DSS were there and they signed for us and the report was written by the REC that elections were conducted. And unfortunately, for the INEC to say that there was no election, we don’t know where they got their information but we believe they have a report directly from their representatives that elections were held in Zamfara State. So, it depends on what they want to do.
“When the chairman of the committee came out and said there was no election in Zamfara State, we realised it was going to be a litigation issue. We quickly rushed to court. We filed a suit and the case is coming up next week. So, I think that is the only saving grace for the party – for a court of competent jurisdiction to give judgement on Zamfara matter. So, there was election,” he submitted.
Yari also dismissed allegations that he was planning to dump APC for another party, saying it is not in his character to jump from one party to the other. He said since he joined the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1998, he never left the party until it dissolved into APC in 2015.