In Kogi State, it is dancing time for most civil servants as many rejoice over the predicament of their Governor, Yahaya Bello, who was allegedly caught with his proverbial hand in a pot of soup by registering twice as a voter.
In the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a committee is trying to figure out what led its staff to go to the Government House, Lokoja, to run a registration center when only Local Government Headquarters are designated spots.
“They are definitely in trouble,, including all the top officials that facilitated it,” a source said last night.
A cross-section of civil servants interviewed in Lokoja said that the governor’s travail is answers to prayers.
“For the past 17 months, some of us have not been paid, others it is either 16 months, 15 or twelve. There has been no salaries, pensions and gratuities and we hear of a private university in Benue and choice property in Abuja been bought wholesale. The day of reckoning has come, ” one top civil servant said.
An INEC chief said last night that though the alleged offence of the governor is criminal in nature, he enjoys immunity until he leaves office. “We will have to wait because of the constitutional provision,” he added.
Worse for the governor, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in Kogi State has called on him to resign for registering twice for permanent voter card.
A Senator, Dino Melaye, made the call on behalf of the party at a news briefing in Abuja on Friday.
The chairman of the APC in Kogi, Hadi Ametuo, agreed with Mr. Melaye, adding that it was the position of the party.
Mr. Melaye said the people of Kogi State and the party were dissociating themselves from the act and called on Mr. Bello to resign immediately or risk impeachment.
“This executive recklessness and impunity is what we are reacting to.
“We are saying that as stakeholders in Kogi politics and the All Progressives Congress (APC), we condemn in its entirety the fraudulent behaviour of Yahaya Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State.
“This criminal behaviour has embarrassed the people of Kogi state and the APC. We dissociate ourselves from this criminal behaviour.
“Kogi people are responsible people and we expect to have a responsible governor. As at the time he was contesting that election, it showed that he was not a registered voter in Kogi state.
“Since he knew he was not registered in the state, why did he in the first place accept the candidacy of the party?
“So, on this note, we are calling immediately for the resignation of the governor because a criminal awaiting trial cannot be representing the people of Kogi state as governor.
“If he has integrity, he should honourably resign and if the governor refuses to resign, we are going to mobilise our members in the House of Assembly to start an impeachment process against him.
“We will do this because we have a valid point as expressed by INEC,’’ he said.
Mr. Melaye further said that besides the move for impeachment, Kogi citizens would be mobilised to stage peaceful protest in strategic locations across the country should he refuse to resign.
He said the people would be mobilised to INEC’s head office, the national secretariat of APC and strategic locations in Lokoja to protest, adding that power belonged to the people.
The lawmaker emphasised that the governor’s action was an embarrassment to the state and the party.
“He has disgraced the party we are so proud of; he has disgraced the people of Kogi state enough by not paying salaries.
“Our people are dying. This 419 entrant into government should cease and we are going to follow it to the letter.
“This will give the APC electoral deficit in 2019 if we did not separate Yahaya Bello from the APC.
“We will not allow him to destroy this platform because it is still useful to many of us because we want to use it in 2019.
“He must be honourable enough to step aside because he who must go to equity must come with clean hands.
“INEC said it contravenes the provisions of the Electoral Act and that he has committed a crime and because of his immunity they cannot prosecute him now.
“INEC said the second registration has been cancelled and that the officer who went to conduct the registration will face disciplinary action.
“INEC also said Government House Lokoja is not a designated local government registration centre, meaning the governor must have taken INEC to Government House either through corruption, coercion or through diabolic means,” he said.
The chairman of APC in Kogi, Hadi Ametuo, agreed with Mr. Melaye, adding that it was the position of the party.
He said, “We know the law and INEC says it is criminal. We will abide by what Melaye has just said. That is our position.’’
The call for the governor’s resignation came on the heels of a statement from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying Mr. Bello registered twice to vote.
INEC, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, accused Mr. Bello of double registration for Permanent Voter Card in contravention of the Electoral Act.
The statement was issued by Solomon Soyebi, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.
The statement noted that Mr. Bello had his first registration on Jan. 30, 2011 in Wuse Zone 4, Abuja and the second registration on Tuesday, May 23, at the Government House, Lokoja.
It further noted that the Government House was outside the designated centre for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration.