By Ebuka Onyeji
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has described as “highly disappointing”, the inability of the police to manage situations leading to widespread violence and unchecked intimidation of voters during Saturday’s supplementary governorship election in Kano state.
The group said it was seriously perturbed by the decisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agents to continue with the election despite reported outcries and an anticipated threat to the peaceful electoral process as evident in some polling centres.
It said such incidents constitute a total breach of Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act which calls for immediate postponement of elections in such circumstance.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to discountenance the supplementary elections and return to status quo prior to the 23rd March 2019”, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), the group’s Executive Director said in a statement Sunday evening.
“Anything of short will be setting a very dangerous precedent where the use of force to capture electoral gain will become the rule rather than the exception.”
Despite widespread reports of violence in Kano Saturday, INEC on Sunday declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, winner of the governorship supplementary election.
Mr Ganduje lost the first election held on March 9 by about 26,000 votes, but his total votes in the two polls put him ahead of his main challenger, the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abba Yusuf. Mr Ganduje has been formally declared the winner of the election by INEC.
The PDP earlier before the announcement rejected the results, saying many of its agents were attacked and some killed.
The PDP also said thugs were brought into Kano from neighbouring states by the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), who allegedly intimidated and stopped PDP supporters from voting.
Mr Yusuf, the PDP candidate, had also warned INEC against declaring Mr Ganduje winner. He said such announcement by INEC will throw the state into an “unprecedented political crisis” and will be resisted.
Police Downplay A source of Concern
The police have however played down the reports of violence saying the election was largely peaceful.
In the statement, CISLAC boss said down-playing by the police of the obvious problems that arose in the rerun “is a source of concern.”
“We are surprised that even with the deployment of highly placed police personnel, the situation could not be managed.”
Few days before Saturday’s polls, a video showing the Kano State chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Abbas, describing the supplementary governorship election in the state as a “do or die” went viral on the internet.
In the short video, the party chairman also assured supporters his party would provide maximum protection for its members even if it means ensuring the dismissal of police officers who try to restore order.
The group also expressed surprise over what it described as “a clear case of double standard reportedly maintained by both Kano REC and the State Returning Officer who had agreed and called for cancellation of the earlier result from Gama as thugs disrupted the collation process; and their present reluctant to cancel the latest results given despite widespread violence across all the 62 polling units.
“We also bemoan a dishonest move by four presiding officers from Nasarawa Local Government Area of the state, who made away with the result of the election to an undisclosed location. This hampers credibility and further justifies our call for discountenancing of the supplementary elections,” it said.
The group further condemned “in totality the open display of lawlessness and rascality involving indiscriminately massive deployment of hoodlums in the conduct of supplementary gubernatorial elections with resultant sabotage of electoral process and loss of lives in Kano state.”
Sokoto, Plateau, Kano, Bauchi and Benue were the five states where supplementary polls held to determine governorship positions, while voters turned out in other states like Lagos, Imo and the Federal Capital Territory to determine local assembly seats.