Yusuf Suleiman, the Director General of the APC Gubernatorial Campaign Organisation in Sokoto State, has lauded members of the party for coming out to vote for the party’s candidates in the just concluded general elections.
The party’s governorship candidate, Ahmed Aliyu, narrowly lost the governorship post to incumbent Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party.
But in this interview, Mr Suleiman, a former minister, said the APC has filed a petition at the tribunal to retrieve what he called the ‘stolen mandate’.
“We won the election but INEC and PDP in Sokoto rigged the elections,” he said.
Question: Your party won 16 seats in the Sokoto State House of Assembly, three Senate seats and nine seats in the House of Representatives. Why did you lose the governorship election in the state?.
Answer: Well, we will not say we didn’t get the ticket of the governor. We will rather say that somehow, through some inexplicable reasons, the returning officer declared Governor Aminu Tambuwal as Governor-elect.
The declaration was totally against the spirit of the law. Once the difference between the two leading parties is less than the total number of votes cancelled, you cannot declare a winner and that was what happened. Governor Tambuwal knows it. Everyone in Sokoto knows it.
We had 1500 plus people that were not able to cast their vote during the supplementary election. The difference is just about 342 votes.
I don’t know what law the returning officer used to return Governor Tambuwal as Governor-elect.
The law says once you cannot determine a winner. You have to declare the election inconclusive. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do that, a winner has to emerge.
The reason for this is that, if the number of voters who have not cast their vote is more than the difference between the two leading parties, it suggests that if all the voters decide to vote the other way, the leading person will lose.
That is why when you have the total number of votes not cast less than the margin, you declare a winner because if all of them decide to vote for the second person, the other person will still win.
In this case, we have 342 vote lead, so-called lead, because it contains results of the election that was conducted twice in many places, both on March 9 and March 23. Both were recorded.
I can’t understand what happened to INEC other than, for many of us, we believed they were compromised.
There is just no way any reasonable, sensible person could declare that election conclusive and declare Governor Tambuwal returned as elected.
Question: What message do you have for your supporters in the state?
Answer: The first thing I will say to our supporters is to thank them for coming out overwhelmingly to vote for our party.
Every reasonable, responsible person knows that Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu ought to have been declared the Governor-elect.
There is this analysis of the voting trend in our state that someone made and I always try to present it to our supporters. During the presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari and our APC candidates in both senatorial and House of Representatives elections got an average of 490,000 votes. PDP, on the other hand, got 340,000 votes. The difference between the two parties is about 150,000 votes.
During the governorship election, APC got 486,000 votes which is about 4000 people less than we got which is normal in an election like this.
But PDP, on the other hand, jumped from 340000 to 490000 votes without a corresponding reduction in our votes.
Where did the votes come? That is why we believe the election was absolutely rigged in their favour.
INEC in Sokoto has to account for the difference between the total number of people who voted during the presidential election and those who voted during the governorship election.
Question: Are you suggesting you do not have confidence in INEC?
Answer: No I don’t in Sokoto. The leaders of INEC in Sokoto have been compromised. They are totally 100 per cent PDP. I said it many times and this has been proven. I think the chairman of INEC should ask Sokoto INEC to account for that difference.
We shall demand for a forensic examination of the ballots that were cast during the governorship election and you will see that many of those ballot papers will appear to be fake or they have to account where they got them from.
Question: So your party will follow up on the petition?
Answer: Yes 100 per cent. We will follow this to a logical conclusion. We believe in the justice system in Nigeria. We believe in the judiciary and we believe we are going to get Justice in this regard and we will do whatever it takes to retrieve the mandate openly stolen by Sokoto INEC and PDP.