The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)has rejected the result of the Bauchi South senatorial election held on Saturday.
The PDP candidate, Ladan Salihu, was declared runner-up in the election with 50,256 votes.
The electoral commission (INEC) had on Sunday declared the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Yahaya Gumau, winner of the election with 119, 489 votes.
Mr. Gumau, a serving member of the House of Representatives, won in six out of the seven local government that make up Bauchi South Senatorial District. Mr Salihu won in one.
Most of the local government returning officer reported mass cancelation of votes which they said was occasioned by various shades of electoral frauds. About 68, 000 votes were cancelled in various polling units where elections were conducted.
Reacting to the announced result, the opposition PDP said the election was “the most scandalous ever in the history of Bauchi state and Bauchi South in particular.”
The party also alleged collusion between security agents, INEC officials and those of the state government to rig the election.
This position was, however, countered by a coalition of 25 other opposition parties who described the exercise as one of the most peaceful and credible elections ever conducted in the state. The coalition went further to congratulate the winner, urging him to be a good ambassador of the people of Bauchi.
Most of the parties that commended the election did not take part in it. Only nine political parties took part in the election.
Addressing a press conference at the party secretariat in Bauchi on Monday, the state chairman of PDP, Hamza Akuyam, said the by-election was an enactment of what the state government scripted, and rehearsed over a long period of time.
“The Bauchi State Government has perfected a script on the art and science of election rigging,” said Mr. Akuyam.
“This was carefully rehearsed and executed with active participation of law enforcement agencies and officials of the INEC.”
He alleged widespread vote buying during the exercise, alleging that “APC-led government officials openly lured citizens with cash for their votes.”
“Votes were sold for anything between N100 up to N5,000 – simply put, the ballot paper became the most sought after commodity in the zone during the exercise.
“Bauchi State Government colluded with the voting clerks and other electoral officers to stash ballot boxes with excess ballot papers only to turn around and cancel votes from the same boxes, then blame dubious card readers and over-voting.
“The social media is awash with damning revelations, scandalous videos and pictures of rigging as captured. The most shocking part of it is that the officials of the APC-led government in the state showed no respect for the law or the rights of the voters.”
“This is the first time in our democratic history that over 80,000 votes were cancelled in an election where only 256,763 were cast.
“We also have evidence that card readers were also not used in the larger part of Toro local government; which explained the massive number of votes secured by the APC compared to Bauchi which has more centers and registered voters.
“It is also regrettable that the state office of the INEC became theatre of electoral malpractice and manipulation where figures were scandalously re-jigged to favour the APC.”
On their part, the coalition of 25 opposition parties also granted a press conference at about the same time as the PDP was having its own. The coalition shared a different view of what transpired during the election.
The chairman of Africa’s Peoples Alliance, Abdullahi Muhammed, who led some members of the opposition parties, said as far as they were concerned, last Saturday’s poll was the most credible and peaceful election they have seen in recent times.
“We the members of the opposition coalition made up of 25 political parties are congratulating our colleague and senator elect, Honorable Yahaya Gumau over his victory in the Bauchi south senatorial bye election,” said Mr. Muhammed.
“We also want to congratulate the INEC and the security agencies in Bauchi for ensuring a hitch-free by-election without any single incident of violence, ballot box snatching or vote buying. If we the people of Bauchi state can sustain this tempo our society will be better off.
Countering the PDP on the issue of vote buying, the leader of coalition of opposition parties said, “As far as we are concerned we did not see any case or incident of vote buying, even if there is any, it is very insignificant and not enough to use it to make a general case. If you look at the number of people that participated in the election you notice that it is not possible for everyone to be offered money to cast their vote. All the same, we condemn any act of vote buying because if it is condoned it means one cannot win election if he or she has no money.”
He however noted that there is need for a better voter education in the state.
“We have noticed that some of the voters who came out with their temporary voter’s card were not allowed to cast their vote; and this of course has opened their eyes to the need to get their permanent voter’s card,” said Mr. Muhammed.
One of the members of the coalition and a candidate of the PDC who scored 1,203 votes to emerge the 6th runner up, said he conceded defeat because of the level playing ground given to every contestant during the election.
“If the election was not credible, I wouldn’t be here to concede defeat and congratulate the winner,” he said.
“We are happy with the election because it was free and fair, devoid of any kind of rancor and malpractice like it was the case with other states where elections were conducted on the same day,” he said.
“This is democracy and in every contest there must be a winner and losers. Honorable Gumau was seen as the best amongst all of us that vied for the same position; and we that did not do well will have to wish him well and if at the end of the day the same people that voted him found favour in us, we shall come out in 2019 to slug it out with him.”
When PREMIUM TIMEs contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Kalli Abubakr, for comments on the alleged involvement of security agents in election malpractices, he dismissed the allegations as baseless.
“Anyone that makes allegations like this should come up with verifiable proof,” he said.
“As far as we are concerned, the police has done its best to ensure the exercise was peaceful and that we have been able to achieve.”