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Henry Omunu, Abuja
House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and other candidates in the February 19 National Assembly election have opposed plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relocate the collation centre for the Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of Bauchi state.
This position was contained in a statement issued by Turaki Hassan, the media aide to Dogara.
According to Turaki, the speaker who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag bearer in conjunction with the candidates of other parties in the election rejected moves by the INEC to relocate the constituency collation centre from Zwali to Dass just weeks to the elections.
He asserted that the latest moves by INEC is fueling speculations that it is a plot to cause crisis in the area to pave way for rigging in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Turaki disclosed that the candidates have subsequently, petitioned INEC after a joint meeting held in Tafawa Balewa Local Government, Bauchi state at the weekend.
The parties, the statement added, strongly rejected the proposal tabled by INEC to move the constituency collation centre from Zwall in Tafawa Balewa Local Government to Dass or any other place.
The speaker’s aide said that Zwall was chosen as the new collation centre in March 2015 few days to the 2015 general elections on the recommendations of the federal government for security reasons and that an Abuja Federal High Court had on March 23, 2015, ordered that the collation centre remain in Zwall.
“Any attempt by INEC to move the collation centre will contradict the subsisting judgment of the court and could constitute contempt of court.
“That all stakeholders agreed that the collation centre be cited at Zwall and should therefore remain there because it links the three council areas that make up the federal constituency, is easily accessible and hasn’t witnessed any crisis.
“Since 2015, there has been no crisis in not only Zwall but the entire federal constituency that will warrant such a sudden, ill-advised, and premeditated action by INEC which is supposed to be an unbiased and neutral umpire,” the statement stated.
Dogara and the other candidates therefore, accused INEC of plotting to convene another meeting of select few just to endorse the surreptitious moves.
It warned that INEC should know that the area has witnessed unprecedented peace in the last four years and should not allow itself to be used to cause crisis with this hidden agenda.
“We want a peaceful, free and fair election. Consequent upon the above, we therefore totally and unequivocally oppose, reject and shall resist every attempt by INEC to move the collation centre from Zwall in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area not only to Dass but to any other location for that matter,” the statement added.