INEC under fire!......As Bauchi, Plateau govs attack electoral umpire — Nigerian Pilot News
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INEC under fire!……As Bauchi, Plateau govs attack electoral umpire

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Prosecute electoral offenders before Kogi, Bayelsa polls, CSOs urge INEC

*I’ll drag Commission to court, Gov Abubakar threatens

*Says President’s interference not necessary

*Decision on Plateau poll unnecessary– Gov Lalong laments

*Meet Buhari to pour out grievances against INEC

Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi state and his Plateau state counterpart, Simon Lalong on Monday in Abuja turned the heat on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over its decision to resume collation of results in Bauchi and conduct supplementary election in Plateau.

The two governors, who were in Aso Rock Presidential Villa to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on decisions of INEC, faulted the electoral umpire on the outcome of the election in their states.

Governor Abubakar, apparently uncertain of what might be the outcome of the electoral umpire if collation of results resumes, has however threatened to initiate legal actions against the Commission.

The governor described INEC’s decision as illegal and declared that he has resolved to go to court.

While criticizing INEC, he alleged that it was an attempt to reverse itself having previously taken a decision to hold supplementary elections in the state.

Fielding questions from State House Correspondents after meeting with the President, Abubakar said, “I came to brief Mr. President about the situation in my 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 juxtaposes that of Bauchi and other states with inconclusive elections, one wonders 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.”

When asked if INEC’s decision was extra legal, the Bauchi governor responded, “Of course it is definitely extra legal. It is a straight forward matter. The returning officer is the final arbiter even with respect to scores and declaration of result. And once he makes a declaration, no power can reverse that declaration except duly constituted court of the land.”

When asked what was his mission to the presidency, considering the fact that INEC was an independent institution, the governor, 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.

“One of which is that I am a lawyer and I am pursuing the legal angle. I briefed him and he emphasized on that legal angle, that it is the best way to go.”

Asked if he was prepared for the supplementary elections, Abubakar said, “If they are going to do it now, we are ready. I don’t know who is afraid of anyone in Tafawa Balewa.”

Plateau state governor who had a separate meeting with President Buhari told journalists after the meeting that INEC erred in declaring the election inconclusive in the first instance.

Lalong however said he was confident of emerging victorious after the supplementary, hence he decided to maintain his cool.

The governor debunked insinuations that he had come to court the support of the presidency over the supplementary poll.

According to him, he was at the presidency to brief the President about the resurgence of crisis in his state, which he believed were politically motivated.

State House correspondents asked him his mission to the villa, few days to the supplementary elections, he said, “My meeting with the President is the usual briefing on security matters, I call it usual because of my passion for peace in the state. It is not about the election, it is purely about peace, to ensure we have a very peaceful election.

“So far so good, we have had very good peaceful elections. We are coming back for a supplementary election, I will like INEC to conduct a peaceful election and so we will like the security apparatus to be on ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr. President”.

Asked if he was jittery that the supplementary election may not come out in his favour, he responded, saying, “How can I be, when all the votes that were cancelled were my votes? These were areas that I won. “There was no need for cancellation but then as a lawyer, I still want to comply with the rules, I don’t want to be talking about infringing on the rules when the election results are very clear.

“They said registered voters were 49,000 but the votes were not up to 20,000 but people were still saying we need 49,000 and I was already on top with 45,000 votes. So we are going to get the 49,000. How can you imagine that a sitting governor cannot get 3,000 votes out of 39,000 in an area that I have well dominated for a very long time?

“So for me, the election is as good as concluded in Plateau State. I see it as an opportunity for people whose votes were cancelled for them to vote. People came and said their votes were cancelled, it is for them to go back and vote and ensure their vote counts this time around. That is why I support that we go back and conduct the elections. If they (INEC) like, let them conduct the elections more than once, we will still win”.

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