From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)+ candidate, Gwaram State Constituency in Jigawa State, Mr Zakaria Muhammad Inuwa Friday, has expressed disappointment with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for issuing a Certificate of Return to his All Progressives Congress, APC rival despite inconclusive results.
Reacting to the issuance of Certificate of Return in a statement, Inuwa pointed out that he had on March 20, 2023 sent a petition to the INEC headquarters, Abuja challenging the results of Gwaram State Constituency.
According to him, the petition was written after feeling that the Jigawa Resident Electoral Commissioner was going ahead to issue a Certificate of Return contrary to the relevant provisions of rules and guidelines of election, particularly as the Collation Officer had declared the results inclusive due to massive irregularities.
The irregularities, he pointed out, happened in Sara Ward polling Unit 009 with 577votes, Tsangarwa Ward, Polling Unit 001 with 1,340votes and Kila Ward polling unit 018 with 739 votes
The statement claimed that the cancellation of the units ought to have rendered the results nugatory, hence, he was shocked that Yakubu Ado Zandam of APC was issued a Certificate of Return.
The statement noted: “It was based on the cancellation of the above polling units that the Resident Electoral Officer declared the election inconclusive.
“Unfortunately, after the declaration, some political thugs were deployed by the APC leadership and were used to force the Local Government INEC Returning Officer to declare the APC’s candidate as the winner of the election which was earlier declared incondusive.
“For the reason, it is quite clear that the Returning Officer was said to have declared the APC’s candidate as a winner of the election under duress which violates 2023 electoral laws.”
Reacting to the statement, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Muhammad Bashar, told DAILY POST that he was not aware of inconclusive declaration, neither was he in receipt of a petition challenging the Gwaram State Constituency results.
He said: “I was at the State Collation Center when Gwaram Electoral Officer and his Returning Officer came to the place and presented this result to the State collation officer.
“None of them raised the issue of intimidation or making them declare the result under furess. So what do you want me to do. At a point after the collation and declaration, there is a state collation officer.
“Two of them came to my office, and the returning officer complained to me that he was beaten but he escaped with his life if not they would have killed him. I pray to God to give him speedy recovery.
“The Burser of FUD who came with him said his car was vandalized and I saw the car, the back screen was snatched and other damages. I felt sorry for him.
“I asked the cashier to give them N100, 000, 50000 for the collation officer and N50 000 for FUD burser to fix his car. I did not receive any report from the collation officer telling me that the result was invalid because it was inconclusive.
“He did not, I have no record. It is after two weeks I saw a video, just yesterday. So I don’t have any ‘locus standi’ not to issue certificate to the member-elect.
“Whether there was any by any political party on this matter, he said even if there was any petition I have not seen it before yesterday and even if I have petition to INEC is only valid for 7 days time frame.
“After that you have to go to the tribunal. It is no longer INEC issue. However, if I had gotten the petition I would have acted on it. Imagine Mallam Abdullahi, the EO Gwaram his, returning officer came to the collation center and they presented authenticated result from Gwaram and it was taken by the state Collation officer based on which he made his declaration.
“Even if I knew what happened in Gwaram at that point when they are submitting authenticated result saying that everything was done well.
“Even if I know what happened in Gwaram will I tell them no they are lying? I don’t have the locus standi because I am not the returning officer, he is the returning officer.”