By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The Presidential and National Assembly elections in Plateau State almost upset the fragile peace being enjoyed in the State as the delay in announcing especially the National Assembly election result frayed many nerves.
Although the Presidential election result was announced as early as Monday, the Collation Officers for the National Assembly election put the people on edge, leaving room for rumours on possible winners of the election.
While the Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates of All Progressives Congress were surreptitiously announced winners of the election in Central and Southern Plateau about three days after the election, it took the electoral body five days to announce the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Istifanus Gyang as the winner of the Northern Senatorial zone while the result of the Jos North/Bassa federal constituency of the zone was declared inconclusive.
Among those declared winners are Ignatius Longjan, APC as Senator representing Plateau South, Hezekiah Dimka, APC as the Senator representing Plateau Central and Istifanus Gyang, PDP as Senator representing Plateau North.
For the House of Representatives, Komsol Longgap, APC was declared for Shendam/Mikang/Qua’an Pan federal constituency, Beni Lar, PDP for Langtang North/Langtang South, Idris Maje, APC for Wase, Yusuf Gagdi, APC for Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam, Solomon Maren, PDP for Mangu/Bokkos, Dachung Bagos, PDP, Jos South/Jos East, Simon Mwadkon, PDP for Barkin Ladi/Riyom while that of Jos North/Bassa is inconclusive.
Despite the declaration, a series of protests are ongoing in the State as the result of what the aggrieved described as “a rape of democracy”
Among the aggrieved is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Central Zone caucus which saw the declaration of the APC candidates in the zone of the winners of the election as an invitation to anarchy.
They wondered why an election which was fraught with irregularities and INEC said was “inclusive” was later turned to be one which candidates are Nicodemously declared as “winners.”
Voicing out their concern, the State PDP Vice-Chairman, Central zone, Benedict Shignuhul told journalists in Jos that the exercise was a robbery of the people’s mandate and an indication that INEC does not mean well for the people of Plateau State as the Commission wants to cause crisis in the State.
According to him, “Elections were relatively peaceful in four out of the five local government areas of the Zone, the people spoke their minds by vesting their trust in PDP, we experienced insecurity and threats to lives of our Party agents in Kanam local government area as they were intimidated and chased away.
“There was failure to use smart card readers for accreditation, cases of over voting, delayed submission of results and submission of multiple results sheets from Kanam. We raised our concerns with the INEC staff at the Zonal collation centre in Pankshin, there was a review of the results from Kanam, which raised a number of irregularities including irreconcilable figures. It was declared by INEC that the result from Kanam was inconclusive.
“A document was duly signed by the INEC Returning Officer for the National Assembly to that effect, a copy of which we have. The Party’s candidates met with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Jos on Tuesday, February, 26th, 2019 where he assured that the INEC officials will go back to Pankshin to further review the results from Kanam.
“Upon arrival in Pankshin, the Party was amazed to witness a heavy presence of security agents including military armoured tanks, police dogs, to our shock, the Returning Officer informed the meeting that it was not about a review but that they came to declare the results.”
The Party demanded that “INEC stand by its declaration on the results from Kanam” as the “Party does not accept the purportedly announced results. Anything short of standing by the document earlier signed by the Returning Officer, Professor Joseph Mangut is unacceptable.”
However, the Senator-elect for Plateau North Senatorial zone, Istifanus Gyang has appreciated God, the Media and the people for standing by him to reclaim the mandate which was “almost stolen” when the result was not announced for five days.
Gyang assured his constituents that he will sponsor a bill for a constitution amendment to checkmate the brazen mandate robbery which characterized the just concluded election.
His words, “I appreciate God, people of Plateau North and the media for retrieving my mandate to me. When I get to the Senate, together with like minds, we will take up the issue of amendment of the constitution to check all forms of impunity by INEC. I will be a prime mover so that we deepen our democracy and ensure this kind of impunity does not happen again in our electoral process.”