The Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, has said that he will go to court to challenge the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to resume the collation of the results of March 9 governorship polls in the state.
The Governor, who said INEC’s decision was “illegal,” spoke on his next line of action after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday at the Presidential Villa.
The State Returning Officer, Mohammed Kyari, had declared the governorship election in Bauchi as inconclusive.
Kyari explained that the margin of 4,059 votes between the two leading parties was less than 45,312, which was the number of cancelled votes after results from 19 local government were collated.
However, INEC in a statement signed by Festus Okoye, its commissioner in charge of Voter Education, Media and Publicity, said the commission, having considered a report sent by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bauchi State, decided to further investigate the cancellation of the result from Tafawa Balewa Local Government of the state.
After the Okoye committee visited the state, INEC said the collation and announcement of results from Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area for the governorship election would be completed as the duplicate and original Registration Area results were available.
It therefore said collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume today (Tuesday).
According to Governor Abubakar, who was trailing the PDP candidate, Bala Mohammed, he went to the State House Presidential villa to “brief the president on the development.”
The Bauchi Governor granted journalists a short interview after he emerged from the president.
Q: Why did you come to see the president?
A: I came to brief Mr. President about the situation in my state. I briefed him on the issues surrounding the inconclusive elections. The Returning Officer for Bauchi State at the end of collation rejected the result of Tafawa Balewa local government and then 36 other units spread around 15 local governments of Bauchi state and ordered a rerun.
Surprisingly, we woke up one morning and the Independent National Electoral Commission came up with a procedure that is not known to law. Because, where a Returning Officer has declared the result, only an election petition tribunal can reverse the result. But INEC is attempting to reverse itself in the case of Bauchi. And when one juxtaposes that of Bauchi and other states with inconclusive elections, one wonders why that is happening only in Bauchi State.
So, for that reason there is a need for me to come and brief Mr. President because of what has the potential of touching on the security of the state.
Q: Do you think what is happening is illegal?
A: Of course it is definitely extra illegal. It is a straight forward matter. The returning officer is the final arbiter even with respect to scores and declaration of result. And once he makes a declaration, no power can reverse that declaration except duly constituted court of the land.
Q: INEC is an independent body and you are here to seek Mr. President’s audience, what do you expect him to do?
A: No, no, no! I said I came to brief Mr. President; I am not seeking any action of Mr. President. We all know Mr. President; he is a stickler for procedure. What I pointedly told him was that I am not here to seek for you to interfere on our behalf sir, but to brief you on what is happening and what actions I have taken.
Q: What are the actions you took?
A: One of which is that I am a lawyer and I am pursuing the legal angle. I briefed him and he emphasised on that legal angle that it is the best way to go.
Q: How is the security situation in the state now?
A: We are on top of the situation, thank God. We have since ordered the ban on procession in the metropolis and things are very, very calm.
Q: You saw the Vice President last week, is it that you were not satisfied with the way he handled the matter?
A: No, no, no! There are procedures in this matters and levels of authority. I am a stickler for procedure, I started at the right place and I have also ended up at the right place.
Q: How prepared are you for the rerun elections?
A: If they are going to do it now, we are ready. I don’t know who is afraid of anyone in Tafawa Balewa.
Q: Are you confident you will win?
A: Insha Allah.