Supplementary Election: Amidst anxiety, voting ongoing in Kano, Benue,

Supplementary Election: Amidst anxiety, voting ongoing in Kano, Benue, Sokoto, other battle ground states

Bonaventure Melah

Although there was fears that violence may characterise today’s supplementary elections in some states, voting in currently ongoing as scheduled in Kano, Benue, Bauchi, Sokoto and Plateau states.

On Friday, the Nigeria Police have assured that adequate security has been put in place to ensure that the elections are conducted in violence-free environments, the events of February 23 and March 9 when governorship and state assembly were conducted across the country had contributed to the fears of the people,

The Presidential and National Assembly elections were conducted on February 23 while those of governorship and state assembly took place March 9.

Both elections recorded incidences of violence, destruction and many deaths, especially in states like River, Sokoto and Kano as well as Imo, where the out-going governor, Rochas Okorocha was alleged to have unleashed thugs on voters as well as forced INEC officials to announce him as winner. INEC has therefore said it would never issue its certificate of return to Rochas.

It is on that backdrop therefore that residents of the states where supplementary elections are taking place today are said to be edgy over their safety while the process goes on.

In Kano, there has been pockets of violence in one or two polling booths where political thugs were reported to have chased voters away but generally, the process has been very peaceful and transparent in most of the polling units numbering about 220.

In Kano 128,324 votes are at stake, the battle is between incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Abba Kabiru Yusuf.

While Ganduije is relying on the power of incumbency as the sitting governor as well as his track record of achievements in the past four years, Yusuf is depending on goodwill from his father-in-law, senator Rabiu Kwakwanso who single-handedly made him PDP’s candidate.

Governor Ganduje on Thursday raised the alarm while speaking to BBC Hausa that the state commissioner of Police is partisan and biased in favour of the PDP but the Police has denied the allegation, assuring residents of adequate security while threatening to deal with any person, no matter his or her public status that attempts to cause trouble today.

In Plateau, tension was so high on Friday and early morning today to the extent that the Police Command had to impose restriction of movement of persons and vehicles for the period that the voting and collation would last, assuring that it was committed to ensuring that the people of the state exercise their franchise without fear of molestation. But elections are going on without record of any ugly incident.

In Sokoto State, incumbent governor and former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal is fighting the political battle of his life as his main rival, Aliyu Ahmed Sokoto of the APC has the backing of Senator Wamako, former governor of the state, among many other political bigwigs.
In the March 9 election, Tambuwal took the lead with 3,468 votes even as the returing officer, Prof. Fatima Batulu Murktar of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa state declared the election, inconclusive.

As today’s election is ongoing, 75,403 are for grabs, if all those with PVC go out and vote.

On Friday, the Nigeria Army said it was extending its operation “Show of Force Exercise” to six violence-prone local government areas in Sokoto State ahead of the supplementary elections, listing the areas as Raba, Kebbe, Gada, Goronyo, Sabon Birni and Isa.

In Benue, another flashpoint for security concern, Police also declared restriction in affected areas while warning hoodlums and other trouble makers to stir clear.

But as election has gone nearly halfway, violence has been reported in many areas by Daily Times reported including the burning of INEC materials in some areas. The process however is ongoing in many polling units.

Bauchi is a special case in that the PDP is assumed to have won the election, especially with INEC’s admission earlier that there won’t be repeat election in Tafawa that was earlier in content.

The PDP had earlier said it would not participate in today’s election but later changed its mind, saying it was ready to face the contest.

Addressing reporters in Bauchi, the Chairman of the party, Alhaji Hamza Koshe Akuyam said: “You know we are leading. As it is now, what we want to do now is to cap it up. Insha Allah, by tomorrow (today), even if the Inspector General of Police comes to Bauchi, the people of Bauchi will still decide who they want.

“We are good to go. PDP is not afraid of election, and more so, we have won this election and we will continue to win.”

The Bauchi election was declared inconclusive with INEC saying that 22, 759 people were disenfranchised in 15 LGAs. Former Minister for FCT, Bala Mohammed of the PDP is leading with a wide margin so far.

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Chuka Francis