By Davidson Iriekpen
Political parties with candidates vying for the seat of member representing Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State have rejected moves by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relocate the constituency collation centre just weeks to the 2019 elections.The seat is currently occupied by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in September last year.
The latest move by INEC is fuelling speculations that it is a plot to cause crisis in the area to pave way for rigging in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The parties, in a communiqué at the end of their meeting held in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, Bauchi State at the weekend, said they made their position known to the electoral body on January 11, 2019 in the three LGAs. The parties in the communique said: “All party leaders present at the meeting strongly rejected the proposal tabled by INEC to move the Constituency Collation Centre from Zwall in Tafawa Balewa Local Government to Dass or any other place.
“That Zwall was chosen as the new collation centre in March 2015 few days to the 2015 general elections on the recommendations of the federal government for security reasons.”
“That the Federal High Court in Abuja had on March 23, 2015 ordered that the collation centre should remain in Zwall.
“That any attempt by INEC to move the collation centre will contradict the subsisting judgment of the court and could constitute contempt of court.
“That all stakeholders agreed that the centre be cited at Zwall and should therefore remain there because of the following reasons;
“Zwall is on the Federal Highway linking all the three local government areas; Zwall is central and easily accessible from all the three local government areas; Zwall has not witness any violence or crisis.”
“ Since 2015, there was no any crisis in not only Zwall but the entire Federal Constituency that will warrant such a sudden, ill-advised, and premeditated action by INEC which is supposed to be an unbiased and neutral umpire.”
They also accused INEC of plotting to convene another meeting of select few just to endorse the “surreptitious moves saying, “That we are also aware that INEC wants to convene a surreptitious meeting in its office in Bauchi of so-called stakeholders any anytime soon where only a handful of people would be invited, granted access and will be made to sign a prepared document endorsing the proposal.
“That INEC should know that our area has witnessed unprecedented peace in the last four years and should not allow itself to be used to cause crisis with this hidden agenda. We want a peaceful, free and fair election.
“Consequent upon the above, we therefore totally and unequivocally oppose, reject and shall resist every attempt by INEC to move the collation centre from Zwall in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area not only to Dass but to any other location for that matter.”