INEC Reverses Self on Bauchi Supplementary Poll, to Resume Collation Tuesday

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said the scheduled supplementary election in Bauchi state would no longer hold.

This was announced in a statement by the INEC’s National Commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee, Festus Okoye.

Recall that Bauchi was among the six states in which the commission had declared the governorship elections inclusive and fixed supplementary poll for March 23.

Recall also that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in that election, Bala Mohammed, was leading at the time the exercise was declared inconclusive.

He had polled 469,512 votes ahead of the incumbent governor Mohammed Abubakar, his All Progressives Congress, APC, rival who scored 465,453 votes.

In the statement, the commission said it took the decision not to go ahead with another election following the recommendation of a committee it set up to look in to the issues with the election.

It said the collation process in the state will resume on Tuesday, March 19.

According to the statement, the committee found that results of the March 9 elections in Tafawa Balewa local government area, where suspected thugs disrupted the process, were not tampered with.

It said: “The governorship and state assembly elections were held on the 9th March 2019 in Tafawa Balewa local government area and the votes scored by candidates were announced at the polling units and collated at the 11 registration areas of the local government.

“Halfway into the local government collation, armed gangs attacked the collation centre and destroyed the local government result sheet (EC8C) and some collated results from the Registration Areas. The results of 7 out of 11 Registration Areas for Governorship and 6 out of 11 for State Assembly elections were affected.

“INEC guidelines provide that where violent disruption affects collation in this manner, results should be regenerated from duplicate copies on a replacement result sheet. The Collation Officer, under pressure from Party Agents who could not wait for the arrival of a replacement result sheet, decided to collate the result on an available RA result sheet instead of the replacement LGA result sheet.

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“When the result was presented at the State Governorship Collation Centre, the Returning Officer rejected the regenerated result because it was on a wrong result sheet.

“The Investigation Committee established that the result in Polling Units and Registration Areas are available and in safe custody.

“The Investigation Committee also established that the number of cancelled votes for the 4 Polling Units in Ningi Local Government Area which was recorded as 25,330 in form EC40G (1) was incorrect. The actual figure is 2,533.

“Consequently, the Commission has taken the following decisions: approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in relation to the Governorship election as the duplicate and original Registration Area results are available. Approved the resumption, conclusion and announcement of the result of the Tafawa Balewa State Constituency.

“The Collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume on Tuesday, 19th March 2019.”

Okoye further announced the appointment of a new collation/returning officer for Tafawa Balewa to conclude the process after the former person in charge “withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members.”

Meanwhile, the state chairman of the party in Bauchi, Hamza KosheAkuyam, while speaking to journalists in Bauchi on Saturday, said that the committee sent by the electoral body did a thorough job by allowing people’s will to prevail.

He said justice had been done. “We cried foul and they set up a committee to investigate and the committee has done justice. To us, we still have confidence in INEC. What we don’t have confidence in are the police and other security agents who were compromised in all these issues.

“They knew what happened when these people went to the collation centre and vandalised, they were there. And we were surprised that even the paper that the police usually hold were also vandalised. When INEC asked them, they said they were vandalised. Can you imagine somebody going to the Police Station to vandalise the papers?

“So, we don’t have confidence in the Commissioner of Police, we don’t have confidence in the Director SSS because they are another set of M.A Abubakar.”