Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has alleged that officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were present when the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted its primaries in the state.
Mr Yari was reacting to a letter from the commission which declared the APC ineligible to field candidates in Zamfara in the 2019 elections because it failed to meet the October 7 deadline for conducting primaries in the state.
The national headquarters of APC had also earlier dissolved the Zamfara State party leadership and barred Mr Yari from participating in the primaries in the state.
Speaking with State House correspondents on Friday after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari alongside two of his colleagues, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun states, Mr Yari said the elections were held on the advice of INEC.
Mr Yari said he supervised the conduct of the elections after it became clear to him that the two separate committees sent by the national headquarters of the party to carry out the exercise were not willing to do it.
“The result is not actually what they want; so they said that they have cancelled the election. I have seen the scenario of Lagos, once they cancelled the election, they (Lagos APC) said elections cannot be cancelled, let’s continue.
“So, we continued the election and there was hitch somewhere but we decided to suspend the area where there were problems until the following day.
“So, the following day, we continued and we concluded the election by the people nominated by that committee to conduct the election but the committee ran away and refused to collate the results.
“So, what we did, we filed the results and kept it under the watch of those people and waited to see what was going to happen,” Mr Yari said in response to the conduct of the first committee sent to the state.
He said the second committee sent by the APC arrived the state 32 hours to the deadline to conduct the primaries.
“We thought the committee will hasten and say that these are the modalities of the election, these are what we are going to do but the committee wasted about 18 hours discussing about how the modalities are going to be taken.
“So, when we realised that, we were actually advised by the supervisory agency, that is INEC, and other agencies there that since people were out to vote since 7a.m so, we should ask them to start counting.
“When they finished, they released the materials and we adopted the numbers.
“Already, we had produced our own set of forms for the National Assembly which we have done and then, when we concluded, I didn’t see members of the committee until one and half hours to the time.
“Then, when they came I asked them what they came for? They said they came for reconciliation and I said which reconciliation? People cannot reconcile over a month and you are trying to reconcile in an hour. Then, I realised that there was a game that was being played so that we can run out of time.
“And then, maybe, the national body can think they have other ways to produce a candidate which is a crude way because section 87 is very clear on the Act that the party must follow a process before producing any candidate.
“Therefore, the most important is that we conducted election on the 3rd and 4th of October and all agencies INEC, Civil Defence, Police, and DSS were there and they signed for us and the report was written by the REC that elections were conducted,” he said.
Mr Yari described as unfortunate INEC saying there was no election.
“We don’t know where they got their information but we believe they have a report directly from the representative there that election was held in Zamfara State, so, it depends on what they want to do”.
Heads To Court
The Zamfara governor also said said as soon as the chairman of the panel sent to the state announced that there was no election, he went to court.
“When the chairman of the committee came out and said there was no election in Zamfara State, we realised it was going to be a litigation issue.
“We quickly rushed to court, we filed, and the case is coming up next week.
“So, I think that is the only saving grace for the party and INEC for court of competent jurisdiction to give judgement on Zamfara matter, so, there was election,” he said.
On allegations that he plans to leave APC, Mr Yari said it is not true.
He said he has been in the APP since 1998, ANPP in 2002 and finally in the APC at formation in 2014.
He said he has never moved to another party, adding “that is not in my culture. So, the issue of leaving the party is not true.”
He however said he has been under pressure to leave the party.