© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Bauchi guber election: Governor meets Buhari, says INEC trying to subvert the law
THE Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to brief him on what is happening in the state and what actions he has taken over the recent development on the gubernatorial election in the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the Bauchi guber election inconclusive on the basis that the number of cancelled votes in some polling units were higher than the margin between the incumbent governor, Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his opponent, Bala Mohammed, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, further investigations by INEC revealed that the number of cancelled votes was altered and that the original figure was not up to what was earlier purported.
“The Investigation Committee also established that the number of cancelled votes for the four polling units in Ningi Local Government Area, which was recorded as 25,330 in form EC40G (1) was incorrect. The actual figure is 2,553,” read a statement issued by INEC on Saturday.
The commission explained that what brought about the error in the first place was because “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.”
As a result, INEC said that instead of conducting a supplementary election as initially announced, it would continue with the collation process since the error had been rectified. A new collation officer was sent to Bauchi State to replace the old one who said her life and that of her family were under threat.
But both the incumbent governor, Abubakar, and his party, the APC, have kicked against INEC’s decision to resume the collation exercise. They claim that once a returning officer had made a declaration, there is no going back.
As at the time the election was declared inconclusive, the PDP candidate, Bala Mohammed, was leading in the polls.
Speaking to journalists shortly after meeting with President Buhari on Monday, Abubakar said he did not ask the president to interfere with the process but had only briefed him on what was happening and what he intended to do.
“I briefed him (Buhari) 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,” Abubakar said.
“Surprisingly, we woke up one morning and the Independent National Electoral Commission 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 of what has the potential of touching on the security of the state.”
The governor insisted that what INEC has done was illegal, and as a lawyer, he would not hesitate to seek legal redress.
“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 a duly constituted court of the land,” he said.
“I am a lawyer and I am pursuing the legal angle. I briefed him (Buhari) and he emphasised on that legal angle that it is the best way to go.”
Abubakar added he was ready for the supplementary election and was sure of victory should INEC change its mind and go ahead with the election as earlier announced.
Bauchi was one of the six states where the guber elections, which held on March 9, were declared inconclusive. The others are Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Sokoto, and Kano states. The election in Rivers State was put on hold temporarily because of the massive violence that characterised the collation exercise.
However, INEC said it is ready to resume the collation process in the state, assuring that the results so far collated were safe.