Taraba is one of the three states where INEC declared its governorship election inconclusive. SAM TYAV writes on the issues that surround the controversial election
When the elections were shifted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC from its originally scheduled date of February, Nigerians became skeptical on whether the elections would hold at all.
To some political actors in the election, there were also doubts as to whether or not the elections would be credible could be conducted in the country even as INEC continued to sensitize people not to nurse any fears.
It has already gone down in the annals of the history of the country that this year’s presidential and national assembly elections had some semblance of credibility. President Goodluck Jonathan crowned the entire confidence when he conceded defeat and congratulated the president-elect even before the final results were declared.
With that enthusiasm, Nigerians two weeks after the historic March 28 presidential election went to the polls to elect their state governors. However, while it went well in many states, it has remained a ding dong affair in some handful of states. States like Taraba, Imo and Abia have remained inconclusive according to INEC and it has accordingly rescheduled rerun in those states to April 25. But in Taraba, the inconclusiveness of the election has left many tongues wagging.
Ahmad Makama, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the state did well in providing the necessary support. He gave all the stakeholders as well as the major actors the confidence and assured them that there would be no manipulation of any kind.
However, bribery allegations have dogged his stewardship during and after the elections. There are allegations that the REC was involved in bribery in order to favour a particular political party. When confronted with such allegation, he worked reporters out of his office.
Those alleging the bribery point to the conduct of the electoral officer at Ibi local government who was said to have sold sensitive election materials to some political party officials. For this act, he was nearly lynched by angry voters.
The REC was said to have defended that Ibi incidence saying that those who manhandled the electoral officer did it out of misunderstanding.
It is alt is public knowledge that the governorship election took place simultaneously in all the 168 wards of the state on Saturday April 11. When the results started turning in at the INEC office collation center for Taraba in Jalingo, the state capital, APC was in the lead, even as there were also complaints of electoral violence in some areas, including Jalingo, Ardo Kola and Lau but some pulling units were only cancelled.
But when the other results of the other local governments started coming in, it became glaring that the PDP would win even as Sarduna local government area was yet to come. It was at this point as observed that the disposition of both REC and the Returning Officer changed. Observers said they became their aggressive to questions seeking clarification. Also it was at this point of the collation that 20 pulling units from Bali were cancelled on the complain of the APC and the party had a clearer lead in the local government result with twenty three thousand two hundred and sixty three votes as against the fifteen thousand three hundred and fourteen of the PDP. They also cancelled the results in 12 polling units in Takum, nine in Karim Lamido, four in Ussa and Wukari each, one each also in Yorro and Zing.
When the results from Donga local government was brought, there were complaints of electoral violence affecting the five pulling units leaving out about 160 polling units. But the results that came from Donga indicated that PDP was leading with the total votes of 37,069 votes while APC candidate had 10,087 votes. Obviously, there was no complaint against these votes from the remaining 160 polling units, but both Makama and Prof. Kyari agreed that the results of the entire local government be cancelled. They told observers in the hall and journalists that it was within their powers to do what they did.
While declaring the results, the PDP candidate scored 317,198 while Senator Aisha of APC scored 262,386 without the votes in Donga, the margin of lead became 54,812 and cancelled votes became 127,125.
Reacting to the decision of INEC, the senator representing Taraba south, Emmanuel Bwacha described the action of the electoral umpire in the state as abuse of the electoral. He openly said the returning officer had compromised. He accused him of supporting the APC in the election and called for his removal and immediate replacement.
The PDP candidate, Darius Ishaku also expressed displeasure over the cancellation of some results in some parts of the state including where he said INEC knew there were no problems. He however called on all his supporters to be calm and comply with the decision of the electoral body.
On her part, the APC candidate, Senator Aisha has accused both the INEC and security agencies of colluding with the PDP to manipulate the outcome of the election. In a press briefing she addressed in Abuja, the guber candidate said elections did not properly take place in 11 of the 16 local government areas in the state. She therefore called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to either cancel the results of the most affected 11 local government councils or cancel the entire state and start on a clean slate.
“In many Wards cutting across many Local Governments, the elections did not hold in accordance with INEC guidelines. Despite several reports, complaints and protests to INEC ( SPOs, EOs, REC and ROs) by our party field officers, myself and the state party chairman on the irregularities while going on and after, at collation levels, the INEC failed to react and went ahead to accept most of the flawed results.
“The affected Local Governments are: Wukari, Kurmi, Yorro, Karim Lamido, Ardo Kola, Sardauna, Zing, Bali, Lau, Donga and Takum. That’s eleven out of the sixteen local governments in which various irregularities were recorded in the State. After much pressure and complaints at the state collation center the INEC cancelled only the results of Donga local government and some few units in the remaining local governments complained of, leaving a chunk of results of other areas complained of.
“At Jibu Ward in Wukari: Voting took place in only three out of 27 polling units.
At Bantaje Ward also in Wukari, voting took place in only 11 out of 56 polling units, but results for all the polling units were returned,” she said.
She therefore called for the cancellation of the entire election. “In view of the information stated above, we have decided to make the following calls: INEC should set aside the declaration of inconclusive result for Taraba State. The results of all the areas affected by irregularities in the eleven local governments should be cancelled outrightly, after which a fresh collation should be done and a winner declared.
“Alternatively, the result of the entire State should be cancelled and a fresh election conducted. This is in view of the widespread irregularities in most of the Local Government Areas of the State,” she demanded.