Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has said that the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to cancel the Tafawa Balewa local government governorship election results in Bauchi state lacks substance and is a clear departure from the provision of the law.
Speaking during a media briefing in Bauchi, Hon Dogara noted that it is absurd that the electoral body would order a cancellation of the results of an election that was conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner, save for the issue of computation of the final results which was caused by the carting away of the result sheet by agents of the sitting governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He explained, “there was no problem at all in Tafawa Balewa. The only problem they had was the final collation. If that was the only problem, one will think that the worse decision that can be taken is for them to provide the relevant collation sheet to her (collation officer) and say go and complete the collation and bring it in the proper sheet. But in law, anybody who is a lawyer knows that the issue of form does not defeat the issue of substance.
“Now, the substance is that there was a fair, free and credible election, which nobody is challenging. The only issue is that it wasn’t conveyed in the proper form and that can be cured and so, as it is, this election has been won and lost, no matter how you look at it and the PDP, Kauran Bauchi is, by the grace of God, the sitting governor-elect.”
“As it is now, there is no problem, absolutely no problem with the votes from Tafawa Balewa. The chairman of INEC has told the world that elections begin and end at the unit. If they had cancelled any result at the level of unit collation or ward collation, it would have stood cancelled but for there to be peaceful elections, free and fair as attested to by the local government returning officer, Mrs Dominica Anosike, for there to be very peaceful, transparent collation of all the results across the eleven wards in Tafawa Balewa and the only challenge we had was that the Governor’s thugs and boys went and invaded the local government collation centre and carted away some result sheets. Thereafter, the returning officer who collated it on a separate paper, and then wrote a letter, an explanatory memoranda to the state returning officer and the Resident Electoral Commissioner to say that this was the situation in which they found themselves and that was why they had to use another result sheet to do the computation.”
Going further, Hon Dogara wondered why, even though the identity of the thugs who invaded the local government collation centre is public, having been identified as agents of the governor when apprehended, the governor will still be made the beneficiary of the action by cancelling the result in his favour.
Dogara stated that in law, a criminal is never allowed to take the benefits of the fruits of his own crime.
“If you look at it carefully, the thugs that invaded the collation centre in Tafawa Balewa are agents of the governor, the sitting governor of Bauchi State. Their names were read out, it is not a rumour, they were apprehended by the army, including the vehicle they used for the operation and they have been handed over to the police.
“Now, if they were acting for a disclosed principal, which is the governor of Bauchi State, the point is that in the law of agency which we read and it hasn’t changed, the principal is responsible for the acts of his agents.
So, if they were acting as agents of the sitting governor, will the governor now take benefit of the crimes committed by his agents? That is one big question that INEC must answer.
“Secondly, I want to say that the chairman of INEC is a citizen of Bauchi State, just like all of us and they say that charity begins at home. Will he therefore sit down in Abuja and watch or preside over this brazen rape of the mandate of Bauchi State? Will he sit down and sleep in peace when he sees that the decision of his own people here in Bauchi State is being upturned by agents of the agency over which he superintends? That is the question that Professor Mahmood Yakubu, my namesake, will have to answer and the people of Bauchi State are watching. We want to see whether he will cast his vote with the people of Bauchi State or with those who are seeking to oppress the people of Bauchi State.”
The Speaker also advised the governor to take the honourable path of conceding defeat, especially as he had boasted severally in the past that he does not need the votes from the speaker’s constituency to be reelected as governor.
“You have heard him … tell the world, about two times, that I as the speaker, that I am lightweight. He said because I represent an area, that is my constituency, that the highest votes that can come from that area is seventy thousand and in the last 2015 election, he won his election with over 300,000 votes and he doesn’t require one vote from my constituency to be a governor. Now, I want the media to ask him, will it therefore not amount to unprecedented shamelessness for him to now go to my constituency, Tafawa Balewa, with “only seventy thousand votes that he doesn’t require” to campaign for their votes or to illegally source for votes from there to make up and be a governor? If there is any honour on his part, having declared that he doesn’t need one single vote from there, I think honour demands that he should even surrender at this point that he has lost his election. That is the truth.”