Olufemi Atoyebi, Friday Olokor, Hindi Livinus and Armstrong Bakam
The panel set up by the Independent National Electoral Commission over the non-declaration of results of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government during the Bauchi State governorship poll will submit its report on Friday (today.)
A top member of the committee, who confided in one of our correspondents on Thursday, said the panel arrived in Bauchi on Wednesday and held meetings with the state INEC officers.
The member stated, “The members of the committee arrived Bauchi yesterday (Wednesday) and had a marathon meeting. We will most likely submit the report to the commission tomorrow (today, Friday) if the commission is sitting.”
When asked to give the recommendations of the panel, the source said, “I can’t even tell you anything on the issue (recommendations); have concluded our assignment in Bauchi and we are reporting back to the commission.”
When contacted, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission would issue a statement on the Bauchi issue soon.
He said, “I don’t have the power to say anything, it is the commission that will take any decision.”
INEC had on Tuesday said it would hold supplementary governorship elections in Adamawa, Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi Plateau and Kano states.
The commission has yet to declare the results of the governorship election in Bauchi State because of the crisis at the collation centre of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government.
But INEC had declared the results of 19 Local Government Areas out of the 20 in the state. The ruling All Progressives Congress is trailing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Bala Muhammed, with 4,059 votes.
The APC candidate and the governor, Mohammed Abubakar scored 465,453 votes against the PDP’s 469,512 votes.
The commission on Tuesday said it had set up a panel to investigate the crisis over the non-declaration of the results of the Tafawa Balewa Local Government.
Okoye in a statement said the commission having considered a report sent by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State, decided to further investigate the cancellation of the results from Tafawa Balewa LGA of the state.
The state’s Returning Officer, Mohammed Kyari, had rejected the results of the local government because the collation centre was disrupted by thugs.
The collation officer for the local government, Dominion Anosike, had said that the thugs snatched the original results sheet.
PDP, APC trade words
The Chairman of the PDP in Bauchi State, Hamza Akuyam, said the party had yet to take a decision on the Tafawa Balewa issue.
Akuyam, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, said the party was waiting for INEC before taking a stand on whether to go to court or not.
“We learnt from INEC that they have set up a committee which is meeting in Bauchi on the matter. We are waiting for them to finalise their meeting so that we know what to do next,” he said.
But on its part, the APC in the state said it was prepared for the supplementary election.
The Organising Secretary of the party in the state, Abdulkadir Gyan Gyan, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, said even if the results of Tafawa Balewa were not cancelled, a re-run would still be conducted to get the winner.
He said, “We are waiting for the run-off INEC has fixed for March 23. We are prepared. The committee was sent to only look at the situation in Tafawa Balewa LGA and they have come and are doing their work.
“They haven’t given their report for us to know the outcome of their findings. But even if they submit their report, it will not stop the run-off because the result that is in Tafawa Balewa and the one we got there cannot make the results of the whole election to be announced. The margin is not enough for any winner to emerge.”
INEC faults court order stopping Adamawa run-off
In Adamawa State, INEC faulted a Yola High Court ruling which restrained it from conducting a rerun of the governorship election in 40 polling units in the state.
A Yola High Court headed by Justice Abdul-Aziz Waziri had on Thursday morning ruled that INEC should not conduct a supplementary governorship election in the state on March 23, 2019 following a request filed by counsel for the Adamawa State chapter of the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy, Mr Mustafa Shaba, over absence of the party logo on the ballot papers used for the first round of the election which INEC declared inconclusive.
Justice Waziri had ruled that after going through two affidavits submitted in support of the motion, the request had merit.
He said, “After careful perusal of the annexure of the MRDD one to five alongside the written address of counsel urging me to grant the application, I am of the view that the application is pregnant with merit and must be granted.
“I hereby grant the following order. The defendant herein, the INEC, is restrained whether by themselves, their executives, servants, privies, representative nominees or any other person or persons from proceeding with the supplementary election in respect of Adamawa State governorship pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.”
But when contacted by one of our correspondents, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Kashim Gaidam, said the court lacked jurisdiction over federal establishments, describing it as possible undue influence.
He said, “It is an order of a state High Court which has no jurisdiction over federal establishments. It is very surprising indeed. Could it be undue influence?”
After the first round of election on March 9, 2019, the candidate of the PDP, Hamadu Fintiri, established a lead margin of 32,476 votes over the APC candidate, Jibrilla Bindow, who is seeking a second term in office. In declaring the election inconclusive, INEC said the margin was lower than 40,998 votes that were declared invalid.
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