© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Taraba Guber Polls: APC’s Alhassan Calls For Cancellation
The All Progressive Congress, APC governorship candidate in Taraba State, Aisha Alhassan, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to cancel the April 11 governorship election in the state and conduct fresh polls.
In the alternative, she advised that elections be conducted in eleven communities of the state where she alleged that massive irregularities took place.
Alhassan listed the communities as, Wukari, Kurmi, Yorro, Karim Lamido, Ardo Kola, Sardauna, Zing, Bali, Lau, Donga and Takum.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, she alleged that there were massive irregularities in the listed areas which would lead to a flawed outcome if INEC accepts the results from the affected places.
It would be recalled that INEC declared the state’s polls as inconclusive following the cancellation of results of Donga local government area and some units in other communities like Wukari and Zing for alleged irregularities.
The electoral body has fixed a rerun election for April 25 in the affected areas.
In the initial result declarations, INEC returning officer for the election, Muhammad Kariey, said supplementary elections would have to be conducted in Donga and other areas because the total number of votes rejected and cancelled were more than the total votes with which the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Darius Ishaku, led the runner-up, APC’s, Aisha Al-Hasann.
Results released showed that the difference between the PDP and the APC was 54,881, while the rejected votes from the troubled areas were over 100, 000 votes.
PDP had scored a total of 317,198 votes to APC’s 262,386.
However, Alhassan said there were widespread irregularities even in many of the areas that have already been declared by the INEC.
“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 officials by our party field officers, myself and the state party chairman on the irregularities while going on and after, at collation levels, they failed to react and went ahead to accept most of the flawed results. After much pressure and complaints at the state collation centre, 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 we complained of,” the APC candidate noted
She listed some of the irregularities witnessed in the communities as widespread non-use of card readers or destruction of the machines, non-accreditation of voters, subversion of the rights of the people to exercise their franchise, the use of security agencies in aid of the PDP, abduction of electoral officials by the PDP with the help of security agencies, ballot stuffing, collation of results in non-INEC designated areas and non-delivery of electoral materials in many parts of the local governments listed.
She also alleged the complicity of INEC officials at all levels in the state, the resort to vote allocations on results sheets and violence that led to injuries and loss of lives.
“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. In Kurmi, card readers were not used at all and election did not take place. The PDP simply relied on security agencies to rig the polls and write results. In Yorro, voting materials were snatched while residences of PDP officials were used for ballot stuffing and writing results. APC agents were brutally beaten and chased out of voting centres,” Alhassan alleged.
In Karim Lamido, she said that card readers were not used in many places, APC agents were chased away and results written in favour of the PDP. In Sardauna, she alleged that PDP officials colluded with INEC officials to reduce APC governorship votes from 72,584 to 28,860, after having declared the initial result of 72,584 in favour of the APC at the polling units.
And, in Takum, APC agents were chased away, she stated, with some of them shot at and injured by security agents, card readers were not used and INEC collation officers refused to collate results in several wards. In some wards of Takum LGA like Kashimbila and Chanchanji, there was violence and destruction of sensitive materials but results were still returned.
Alhassan also alleged that some of the INEC staff posted to the state were biased and supported the irregularities spearheaded by the PDP.
“We were reliably informed that one Bala Aji, a native of Wukari local government who heads the ICT unit at the INEC office in Jalingo issued to the PDP the unclaimed PVCs and card readers to be used for rigging the elections in Wukari and other local governments in favour of the PDP.”
She also insisted that if the elections are cancelled, INEC officials involved in the last polls should be changed because they had been compromised.
“In the event that the overall result is cancelled and a fresh election ordered, such should not be conducted under the supervision of the current INEC officials in Taraba State as they have shown sufficient evidence of bias and complicity in the April 11th election.”
She continued: “A total overhaul of the INEC in Taraba should be a pre-requisite for any fresh election in the State. The National headquarters of INEC should immediately launch a probe into the conduct of the April 11th Governorship election in Taraba, to ensure that the rights of the people of Taraba State to choose their leaders are not abridged by conniving INEC officials, security and desperate PDP members.”