Bauchi governor may emerge on Tuesday as INEC resumes collation

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), around 11.30pm last night, formally set aside the cancellation of results of gubernatorial election in Tafawa Balewa LGA of Bauchi State.

INEC also approved Tuesday, March 19 for continuation of the collation in Tafawa Balewa LGA and correction of some errors in Ningi LGA before the final announcement of who wins the election between Governor Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Sen. Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

INEC also last night announced the appointment of a new Collation/Returning Officer for Tafawa Balewa LGA to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original Collation Officer, Mrs. Dominion Anosike who allegedly withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members.

A statement yesterday by Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said on March 12, the commission considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Bauchi on the disruption of collation process at the Tafawa Balewa Collation Centre which led to the cancellation of the results for the entire LGA.

According to Okoye “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.

“INEC guidelines provide that where violent disruption affects collation in this manner, results should be regenerated from duplicate copies on a replacement result sheet.

“The Collation Officer, under pressure from Party Agents who could not wait for the arrival of a replacement result sheet, decided to collate the result on an available RA result sheet instead of the replacement LGA result sheet.

“When the result was presented at the State Governorship Collation Centre, the Returning Officer rejected the regenerated result because it was on a wrong result sheet.

“The Investigation Committee established that the result in Polling Units and Registration Areas are available and in safe custody,” he said.

Shedding more light on another contentious LGA, Okoye said “The Investigation Committee also established that the number of cancelled votes for the 4 Polling Units in Ningi Local Government Area which was recorded as 25,330 in form EC40G (1) was incorrect,” he said.

According to him, the actual figure is 2,533, adding that the Commission had taken the following decisions:

“Approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of Tafawa Balewa LGA in relation to the governorship election as the duplicate and original Registration Area results are available.

“Approved the resumption, conclusion and announcement of the result of the Tafawa Balewa State Constituency. The Collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume on Tuesday, 19th March 2019.

“The Commission directed that the error in the total number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government Area should be corrected from 25,330 to 2,533.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the implication of re-generating the results of gubernatorial election in Tafawa Balewa LGA will restore thousands of votes won by the PDP. Similarly, the adjustment of the total votes recorded in four polling units in Ningi LGA will significantly reduce the total number of votes recorded there.

If this is done, it means Bauchi would know their governor hopefully in Tuesday, way ahead of the supplementary elections INEC decides to hold on March 23 the remaining five states.

The decision to restore the votes in Tafawa Balewa was based on the report submitted by the Festus Okoye-led fact-finding committee set up last week, which visited the affected areas and found nothing wrong with the original results that had been collated at polling units.

Tafawa Balewa is the stronghold of the PDP.

Trouble stated in respect of Tafawa Balewa when the results brought to Bauchi was rejected by the state’s Returning Officer, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, when he learnt that collation at the local government collation centre was disrupted by thugs.

According to her, results from six of the 11 wards of the local government had been successfully recorded before the thugs attacked the collation centre and made away with the result sheet, prompting her to use the computer, based on what was brought to her by ward collation officers.

Mrs. Anosike, however explained that considering that all the processes of the election including accreditation, voting, sorting and counting were done successfully, she said an agreement was reached between her and agents of all the political parties at the collation centre to use her computer to complete the collation.

“We recorded the results on my computer and all the party agents agreed that everything was done without any manipulation,” she reportedly told the electoral officers at the central collation centre in Bauchi.

It was learnt that Prof. Kyari was not convinced by her explanation and therefore declined to accept the results, citing her failure to sought for his approval at the first instance, in line with electoral guideline before using another method to collate the results.

However, now that INEC seemed satisfied that the gubernatorial election in Tafawa Balewa does not require outright cancellation, it means officials would on Tuesday simply refer to all the duplicate results from all the affected wards and complete the computation.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that before the election was declared inconclusive, collation had been completed in 19 out of the 20 LGAs of Bauchi State, and PDP was leading.

PDP’s candidate Senator Bala Mohammed had 469,512 votes; while APC’s candidate, Governor Mohammed Abubakar is trailing behind with 465,453; meaning there is a difference of 4,059 votes.

However, the PDP had 40,010 votes in Tafawa Balewa while the APC had   29,862 votes which were cancelled.

The implication is that once the election is restored, it means the PDP will lead further with 14,207 votes and APC would have just two lifelines- the outcome from Ningi as well as the void votes across the state.

In the event the total void votes still exceeds the margin of difference between the two candidates, then the rerun option must be considered but if it falls short of the additional votes secured by PDP, it means the opposition party would be declared winner.

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