- Jubilation in Bauchi as results trickle in
- Sokoto, Plateau election peaceful
- PDP condemns killing, wants Kano votes cancelled
- Lalong coasting home to victory
By Our Correspondents
Saturday’s supplementary elections meant to bring down the curtain on inconclusive polls in the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections in Kano, Bauchi, Benue and Adamawa states were heavily marred by violence, killings, intimidation, and suppression of voters. But there were exceptions in Sokoto and Plateau states, where the polls went peacefully.
In Plateau, Governor Simon Lalong, the governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), may be coasting home to victory with a total of 12,327 votes secured in the supplementary election in the state.
Jeremiah Useni, his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, trailed with 8,487 votes, leaving a margin of 3,840.
Lalong has maintained his lead in the state’s supplementary governorship election.
The electoral commission, INEC, had two weeks ago declared the state’s governorship election inconclusive as the margin of victory was less than the cancelled votes.
Before the declaration of the election as inconclusive, the incumbent governor, Lalong, polled 583,255 votes while his opponent, Useni polled 538,326 votes.
The supplementary elections were held on Saturday in 40 polling units in nine local governments.
Results from six of the nine local governments announced at the INEC headquarters in Jos, Plateau State capital.
Some of the results already announced by INEC are those of Bassa, Shedam, Jos North, Barkin Ladi, Kanem, and Pankshin. The announced results so far do not significantly alter the margin of lead of the APC candidate.
However, there was wild jubilation by Bauchi residents Saturday as they awaited the final results of the supplementary elections, which took place in some local government areas in the state. The atmosphere was charged and many already in a state of in euphoria took over the popular Ahmadu Bello Way in jubilation, singing “Sai Kaura” in support of Bala Mohammed, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the state.
With a lot of musical instruments such as drums, flutes, trumpets and saxophones, the electorate danced to tunes of blaring music to express their happiness.
Speaking with THISDAY, one of the electorates, Mohammed Usman who could not hide his excitement and happiness said they were celebrating the outcome of results received by PDP agents in all the polling units where the supplementary elections took place.
According to him, “We are already getting feelers from our people on the field that Kauran Bauchi is leading in many of the polling units and we are celebrating.
He added that “We are celebrating for the outcome of the results we are hearing from our agents for our candidate, senator Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. We are celebrating the results.” According to reports from some of the states, many voters were prevented from voting either by security operatives or thugs believed to have been hired by politicians and their political parties.
In Kano State, there were attacks, which resulted in the killing of four PDP members. The development caused the party’s leadership to call for cancellation of the Kano votes.
Former Senate President David Mark, who was miffed at how the elections turned out, said the idea of inconclusive elections was largely responsible for the voter apathy that greeted Saturday’s elections in Benue State. Mark said the concept was both strange and needlessly expensive.
Trouble started in Kano when thugs wielding dangerous weapons dispersed voters at Suntulma Gama primary school in Nassarawa Local Government Area, causing a major disruption in the election process. The thugs, many of whom donned the agent tags of the APC, also attacked a journalist working with The Authority Newspaper, Mr. Maduabuchi Nmeribe, and the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper correspondent, Mr. Kola Oyelere. The journalists were rescued by some Good Samaritans.
Many of the polling units visited by THISDAY had complaints regarding the conduct of the election.
Spokesman of the Kano State Police Command, Abdullahi Haruna, said the command had sent reinforcement to Gama ward to beef up security at the various polling units in the area in the wake of the crisis. Haruna, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the deployment of additional security personnel to the areas followed the visit by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Anthony Michael, to the areas.
“The DIG Anthony Michael has visited Gama ward to assess the situation and has since sent more reinforcement to protect lives and property,” Haruna said.
He, however, denied the alleged arrest of the Commissioner for Special Duties, Muktar Ishaq.
But following the developments in Kano, PDP has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately declare its candidate, Abba Yusuf, winner of the Kano State governorship election, having scored the highest number of lawful votes and secured the statutory 25 per cent in two-thirds of the state. The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, insisted that no valid election held in yesterday’s supplementary polls and, therefore, no figures could be fabricated from the exercise to displace Yusuf’s leading margin of over 26,000 votes.
Ologbondiyan noted that the people of Kano State had since made up their minds to have Yusuf as their governor and any attempt to subvert their will as already expressed in the March 9 substantive poll, would surely attract the legitimate anger of the masses.
The statement said, “We therefore call on INEC to immediately do the needful by respecting the will of the people as freely expressed on March 9 and announce Abba Yusuf, the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, as the winner of the election, having fulfilled the demands of Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“INEC is already aware that its supplementary election in Kano was completely disrupted by thugs contracted by the All Progressives Congress (APC), who invaded polling units and chased away voters. The commission therefore cannot accept fabricated figures being bandied by the APC as results from the scuttled rerun.”
Supporting PDP’s position on the Kano situation, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) condemned the killings in yesterday’s election and called on INEC to immediately cancel the poll. CUPP described the Kano supplementary election as bloody vampire ceremony and not election.
In a statement issued by its National Spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, the coalition said it based its position on the massive bloodshed, violent activities of armed thugs, and sporadic shooting of voters that characterised the exercise.
“It is regrettable that the state had been taken over by armed thugs, who are busy shooting voters in the name of election and killing anything standing on their way. These thugs armed with sophisticated weapons took over accreditation and voting and murdered party agents,” CUPP said. It accused President Muhammadu Buhari and APC chieftains of promoting the violence.
In Bauchi, a mild drama played out when policemen, who allegedly carted away election materials during the supplementary election, had difficulty returning the same ballot boxes, as people alleged they had been stuffed with more ballot papers.
Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Mr. Turaki Hassan, stated, “Policemen who abducted INEC staff and materials in Jama’are, Bauchi have returned with stuffed ballot boxes.” He, however, alleged that “voters chased them away.”
Few minutes earlier, Hassan had raised the alarm on his social media accounts that, “Police officers have just abducted polling officials with all election materials at Jama’are B, PU, taken them to unknown destination.” He advised that “INEC Nigeria should take note of this. Any result that emanates from that PU is fraud.”
However, the election in Bauchi held across selected polling units in no fewer than 15 local government areas generally witnessed a large turnout of voters, amid tight security.
THISDAY checks revealed that the atmosphere was initially peaceful, smooth and hitch-free with impressive voter turnout.
No fewer than 22,641 registered voters were expected to vote in the supplementary election in 36 polling units in 29 registration areas (wards) scattered across 15 of the 20 local government areas of the state.
At Malar Giji polling unit 008, in Bogoro local government, voters, particularly women, were seen in large numbers getting accredited and voting without hitches. The Presiding Officer in charge of the polling unit, Dapirep Panmun, told THISDAY that accreditation commenced as early as 8am and the card reader machines were effective with impressive turnout when compared to the previous exercise that was marred by low turnout.
A PDP agent and Bauchi’s former Commissioner for Mines and Steel, Professor Audu Gani, also acknowledged the fact that the election in the area was peaceful with huge turnout.
But Benue State’s supplementary election suffered a huge setback when irate youths in Chito, the headquarters of Azendasha council ward, in Ukum Local Government Area, attacked INEC officials, agents and observers. They afterwards snatched all the electoral materials meant for election and burnt them.
A lawmaker representing Ukum state constituency in the House of Assembly, Mr. Paul Biam, the Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Kachina Merga, and adviser to the state governor on revenue and taxation, Mr. Jerome Zaye, who were agents of the PDP in the area, were reportedly attacked by the hoodlums, who successfully disrupted the electoral process.
When contacted, INEC’s Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Andyer Terkaa confirmed the development. It was, however, not clear which party was responsible for the attacks, as attempts to reach the Benue State Police Commissioner were not successful.
Similarly, in Adamawa, some APC members were allegedly attacked by the youths of Nassarawo Jereng at the collation centre for Nassarawo/Binyeri House of Assembly election. The rescheduled election was to fill the vacuum created by the death of the APC House of Assembly candidate for Nassarowo/Binyeri constituency two weeks to the general election, which was marred by voter apathy and skirmishes at the collation centre. The supplementary poll was characterised by same voter apathy and glitches in many places. Many people who were interviewed at Nassarawo Jereng, Wuro Lamja primary school and Gorobi bemoaned the low voter turnout.
But Deputy Inspector General of Police, Usman Abubakar Tilli, who led the AIG, Adamawa State Commissioner of Police, and other security agents to supervise the polls, said he was satisfied with conduct of the electorate. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Kassim Gaidam, also commended the electorate for coming out to vote despite the not-too-conducive atmosphere particularly, the inclement weather.
Deputy Governor Martins Babale was equally optimistic that the APC candidate would overwhelmingly win the two constituencies at the end of the polls. He spoke at Jereng venue of the collation after supervising the elections at Tora and other districts of the constituency.
Plateau State was relatively peaceful as Governor Simon Lalong, who is candidate of the APC, and his PDP counterpart, Senator Jeremiah Useni, slugged it out to determine the next governor of the state. While Lalong defeated Useni at Mandar polling unit in Bokkos Local Government Area of the state, polling 300 votes as against Useni’s 88 votes, Useni defeated Lalong at the Plateau Hotel polling unit. Announcing the results, the presiding officer of the polling unit, David Terfa, said Useni polled 178 votes, while Lalong polled 78 votes.
Results from other polling units showed neither of the candidates was in clear lead.
But the exercise, which commenced early in the various areas of the state, went peacefully without Card Readers failure or related hitches as witnessed in the previous elections.
In Sokoto State, there was a massive turnout of voters for the supplementary election. Our correspondent who visited Shigar Danfarijo Magaji Gari Ward B in 005 and 009 polling units in Sokoto North local government reported that the exercise commenced as early as 8am.
Meanwhile, Mark’s maintained that inconclusive polls were alien to the polity and above all, a waste of time. He said, “This business of inconclusive election is very bad and if we make it a habit, it is a very bad precedent. This is because if I know I’m losing an election, then, I will go and disrupt it and hope for it to be declared inconclusive.”