The result of the Adamawa gubernatorial elections returning Murtala Nyako, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to his position as governor, has been rejected by Buba Marwa, the governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), on the grounds that the elections was marred with “ballot snatching, stuffing and other election irregularities”.
The opposition, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which got the second highest vote in the Adamawa gubernatorial polls also joined in rejecting the result of elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr. Marwa called to question the result of Saturday’s elections as announced by Mohammed Mohammed, the Vice Chancellor Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, INEC’s returning officer, claiming the elections which were going in his favour was “scuttled” by irregularities.
“We totally reject the Adamawa election as released by INEC,” the CPC candidate said.
“Having started this race with the belief that we did the best campaign and that the people were solidly behind us, we reject the result of the election which was going towards Marwa’s victory before it was scuttled due to ballot snatching, ballot stuffing and other irregularities.”
However, despite his rejection of the outcome of the elections result, Mr. Marwa foreclosed contesting the result in the law court. He said he would prefer to leave “everything in the hands of God”.
Premium Times learnt that Mr. Marwa, who once served as a Nigeria’s high commissioner to South Africa and the military governor of two states, was rattled by the huge defeat at the polls and, particularly, the loss in his Michika local government.
A Marwa supporter who did not want his name disclosed told our reporter that Marwa’s political base has been rocked by infighting over the revelation that some members of his party were “financially induced” during the election to work against the interest of the CPC. He said Mr. Marwa is aware that some of his supporters were paid “between 1500 to 2000 to vote for the party that won the election”.
The result released by INEC returning Mr. Nyako of the PDP as duly elected governor showed he polled 302,953 votes to defeat both Marcus Gundiri, candidate of the ACN, and Mr. Marwa of the CPC, who polled 241,0234 and 107,564 of the votes respectively.
The PDP conveniently won fourteen local government areas of the state against ACN’s seven while CPC was unable to win in even one local government area of the state.
The breakdown of the elections result revealed that out of 1,843 619 total registered voters only 685,103 came out to vote in the Saturday election. 26, 850 votes were declared invalid.
The breakdown of the election results reflected that ACN had 241,023 votes, 31.1%; ADC, 2,846 representing 0.2%; ANPP, 3885 representing 0.57%; CPC, 107,546 representing 15.07%; and PDP 302,953 which is 44.22% of ballot cast.
Although the Adamawa elections took place under tight security watch with nearly 15,000 security personnel deployed for the elections, there were many reported incidences of electoral offences which has raised questions of the neutrality of security forces.
In Gombi, there were reported cases of ballot snatching involving security personnel. The returning officer for Gombi L.G.A in his presentation of the elections result narrated the incidence in which a policeman in one of the polling units made away with a ballot box.
According to the INEC official, the issue has been promptly reported to the police whom he said have commenced investigation into the matter.
In Toungo the elections were marred by violence. Danlami Bello, the returning officer for Toungo, said elections result in some polling units including one ward were cancelled due to violence which did not allow election to be concluded.
The violence in the area began, Mr. Danlami explained, when some supporters of a particular opposition party went to protest to the police their suspicion of the activities of a rival prominent politician in the area whom they want investigated “for working to alter the outcome of the elections in the area”. In the course of the protest, violence ensued quickly spreading to most part of the council, Mr. Danlami said.
The violence in the locality severely affected the turnout of voters, as the area witnessed fewer votes cast in the elections. There is not a single local government area where there was not a reported incidence of one electoral offense. In Numan, a man caught for ballot stuffing by some ACN youth supporters has been handed over to the police. INEC’s electoral Officer for Numan in his submission of results of the elections to the state collating officer also tendered a written petition signed by opposition party agents rejecting the results of a particular polling unit. The petition alleged that elections never held in the affected polling unit but rather that the INEC official after collecting election materials vanished only to reappear with a result sheet.
In Yola North local government area an INEC ad hoc official ran away with the result sheet of a particular polling unit. There were also reports elsewhere that a party agent poured the ink used for voting into the ballot box before fleeing.
Prior to the elections, the CPC had always expressed doubts the credibility of the elections. A view corroborated by the state chairman of the party Ibrahim Waziri, in reaction to the supreme court ruling ending the tenure of Nyako and four other governors of the federation which he said would afford a level playing field for all the contestant.
The party also used the stakeholders meeting preparatory to the elections during which time, the CPC alerted the INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, of its fears that plans had already been concluded to rig the elections in the state.
The CPC proposed to INEC that the result sheets to be used for the election be allowed to be counter- signed by agents of the political parties prior to its release to electoral officials. But Mr. Jega in his refusal to grant the proposition by the CPC said it would contradict the constitution. He however pledged that the commission would be “impartial and non-partisan” vowing to use the forthcoming Adamawa polls to etch the name of the commission in gold.
According to a reliable source, Mr. Marwa’s vigilance helped to foil attempts to smuggle in fake ballot papers into the state to rig the election, he said. He said Mr. Marwa, who claimed the PDP used INEC to manipulate the outcome of Saturday’s election which he rejected, played key role in the seizure and arrest of a bus loaded with ballot papers before the elections.
He claimed that after a tip off that a consignment of ballot papers where housed somewhere in the state, the CPC candidate quickly put a call across to the Bridage commander 23rd Armoured Brigade who immediately detailed soldiers to the location. However, the police in the state has denied making any arrest and seizure of ballot papers.
Project Swift, a civil society group saddled with monitoring elections to ensure that votes really counted in elections however adjudged the Adamawa elections to be “credible and free”.
The group complimented INEC on its conduct of the polls saying it had made considerable improvement in the handling of the elections compared to the Kogi elections. It however said while there were some incidences that created concern on the electoral process in some local government areas of the state notably in Michika, Girei, Toungo, Madagali and Shelleng. A report by the group pointed that the incidences were not substantial to undermine the credibility of the whole process.