© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Supplementary polls: Lalong wins in Plateau, INEC officer shot in Benue, collation adjourned in Sokoto
AFTER what can best be described as a chaotic exercise, results are being announced in some of the states where supplementary gubernatorial elections took place on Saturday, March 23.
In Plateau State, the incumbent governor, Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has won a second term in office, having been returned elected by the Returning Officer, Richard Kimbir. The announcement was made on Sunday morning at the collation centre in Jos, the state capital.
Lalong polled a total of 595,582 votes to defeat JeremiahUseni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who got 546,813 votes. The margin of lead between the two candidates was 48,769 votes.
Before the election was declared inconclusive on March 9, Lalong was leading his PDP rival with 583,255 votes to 538,326.
In Benue State, one of the collation officers in the supplementary election was attacked and shot in the leg while conveying the result of his ward to the state collation centre.
Comfort Tuluem, the collation officer for Gboko local government area of Benue state, is a professor at the University of Agriculture, Benue. The attack took place along the Gboko Markudi road on Saturday night. Tuluem was immediately rushed to the hospital.
Earlier on Saturday, hoodlums had attacked a bus conveying electoral materials to a ward in Ukum Local Government Area and set all the materials on fire. Following the incident, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Nentawe Yilwatda, told journalists that all the votes in the ward, which have a total of 13,000 registered voters, have been cancelled.
In Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP was in the lead before the collation exercise was adjourned until 9 am on Sunday.
The supplementary election was conducted in 125 polling units across 22 LGAs of Sokoto state. So far results from 21 local government areas where the supplementary election held has been announced, remaining just one.
The remaining Kebbe LGA has at least 20,000 registered voters which means that the pendulum could still swing either way.
Before the collation exercise was adjourned, Tambuwal has a total of 506,545 votes while his opponent, Ahmed Aliyu of the APC, has 504,488.
The case is, however, different in Bauchi State, where collation is yet to begin hours after the election ended.
The state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ibrahim Abdullahi, explained to journalists on Sunday morning that the delay was due to the absence of the returning officer, Muhammed Kyari, whom he said was on his way from Adamawa State.
Rebuffing the allegations that the exercise was being deliberately delayed in order for the officials to rig the election, Abdullahi said: “We have received all the results from the 15 local government areas but we were made to understand that the returning officer took off a bit late.
“We have been seeing reports that INEC is plotting to change results. We are not an interested party in the outcome of the election. What is paramount for INEC is the processes and the procedure and not the outcome.
“We want to assure that INEC is just and fair to all. So we have to be patient and continue to wait until the arrival of the returning officer.”