The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved the resumption and conclusion of collation of results in Bauchi State.
The commission said the collation and announcement of results from Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area for the governorship election will be completed as the duplicate and original Registration Area results are available.
The collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume Tuesday, March 19.
The commission made this known in a statement late Friday night by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye.
“The Commission has taken the following decisions: Approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results.
“Approved the resumption, conclusion and announcement of the result of the Tafawa Balewa State Constituency.
“The Investigation Committee established that the result In Polling Units and Registration Areas are available and in safe custody.”
According to the statement, the commission made this decision after its meeting on Tuesday, March 12.
The meeting considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation process at the Tafawa Balewa Collation Centre which led to the cancellation of results for the entire local government.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported on the findings of the committee.
The committee explained that elections held in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and the votes scored by candidates were announced at the polling units.
These results were collated at the 11 Registration Areas of the local government but 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.
This affected results of 7 out of 11 Registration Areas for governorship and 6 out of 11 for state assembly elections.
INEC guidelines provide that where violent disruption affects collation in this manner, results should be regenerated from duplicate copies on a replacement result sheet.
However 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.
INEC on Monday therefore declared the Bauchi State governorship election inconclusive due to the margin of lead.
From the final results declared, the margin of lead stood at 4059 which is less than cancelled Votes, 45,312, excluding Tafawa Balewa local government.
The commission further announced March 23 for another fresh election in the affected polling units of Tafawa Balewa LGA alongside other states.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who’s candidate was in the lead, has however alleged that INEC has concluded plans to cancel declared results from 14 local governments in Bauchi State.
The party, made this known at a press briefing by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan on Friday.
INEC also said its investigation committee established that the number of cancelled votes for the four polling units in Ningi Local Government Area which was recorded as 25,330 in form E0106 (1) was incorrect.
INEC said the actual figure is 2,533.
Consequently, 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.
INEC also approved the appointment of a new Collation/Returning Officer for Tafawa Balewa Local Government to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original collation officer who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the former collation officer in a letter to the INEC leadership alleged threats to her life if she returned to Bauchi.
The commission appealed to all actors for continuous support and understanding.
How Things Stand
After the collation of 19 local governments out of the 20, the APC trails the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Bala Muhammed, with 4,059 votes. The APC scored a total of 465,453 votes against the PDP’s 469,512 votes.
Muhammed Kyari, the state’s returning officer, also announced that number of cancelled votes from the announced local governments was 45, 312 votes.
However, in Friday’s statement, INEC announced that there was an error in the number of cancelled votes from Ningi local government. According to the commission, instead of 2,533 that was the actual number of cancelled votes from the local government, 25,330 has been recorded.
The commission said the correction would be made during the resumption of the collation process on Tuesday.
According to the results announced at the Tafawa Balewa collation centre, which was rejected by the returning officer, the PDP also has a healthy lead there. It scored 40,010 votes against the APC’s 29,862 votes. If the result is accepted as announced by INEC, it will extend the PDP’s lead in the election to 14,207 votes.
However, with the correction of the error in Ningi, the number of cancelled votes will be reduced from 45,312 to 17,449 votes, which will make the possibility of an APC win more difficult in a supplemententary election.