By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar Monday in Abuja secured the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari to challenge the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the collation of the March 9 governorship election results in the court, describing it as illegal.
Abubakar, who stated this in the State House after meeting the president behind closed-doors, faulted the electoral commission’s decision to reverse its earlier decision to conduct supplementary polls in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state following the commission’s declaration that the election was inconclusive in the state.
The commission had declared the March 9 governorship elections inconclusive in six states including Bauchi, Adamawa, Sokoto, Benue, Plateau and Kano and consequently fixed March 23 for rerun elections.
However, while the affected candidates from both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were warming up for the rerun polls, INEC changed its mind on Bauchi and ordered the resumption of collation of results earlier suspended in Tafawa Balewa Local Government by the commission.
The decision, however, has not gone down well with the ruling APC in the state and hence, the threat by the incumbent Governor Abubakar to challenge the move.
He said he had opted to visit Buhari to brief him on the situation, adding that he succeeded in securing the president’s support for his intention.
“I am a lawyer and I am pursuing the legal angle. I briefed him and he emphasised on that legal angle that it is the best way to go,” he said.
The governor, who also briefed the president on other issues concerning the development, queried INEC’s sudden change of decision after it had earlier cancelled the results of the election in the local government.
Abubakar, who also queried INEC’s move to reverse its decision on supplementary polls only on Bauchi, said it had become compelling to brief the president on the latest development on the election because it has the tendency of affecting the security situation of the state.
“I briefed him on the issues surrounding the inconclusive elections. The returning officer for Bauchi State at the end of collation, rejected the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government and then 36 other units spread around 15 local governments of Bauchi State and ordered a rerun.
“Surprisingly, we woke up one morning and INEC came up with a procedure that is not known to law. Because, where a returning officer has declared the result, only an election petition tribunal can reverse the result. But INEC is attempting to reverse itself in the case of Bauchi. And when one juxtaposed that of Bauchi and other states with inconclusive elections, one wondered why that is happening only in Bauchi State.
“So, for that reason, there is a need for me to come and brief Mr. President because that has the potential of touching on the security of the state and it is our paramount duty to secure the state,” the governor said.
Asked on why he was seeking the president’s intervention in the matter, he said: “No, no, no. I said I came to brief Mr. President. I am not seeking any action of Mr. President. We all know Mr. President, he is a stickler for procedure. What I pointedly told him was ‘that I am not here to seek for you to interfere on our behalf, sir, but to brief you on what is happening and what actions I have taken.”