—Warns on Security implications of INEC decision
—Threatens to drag Electoral Umpire to Court
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State on Monday stormed the Presidential Villa Abuja to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the security implications of the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to cancel supplementary elections in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state.
The Governor has also threatened to drag the INEC to court for allegedly usurping the role of the Returning Officers, claiming that when the Return Officer during elections declares results, only the Election Petitions Tribunal has the power to reverse it.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Buhari at the State House, the Bauchi State Governor who has visited the Presidential Villa, two times within week expressed optimism that he would emerge victorious after the process.
Explaining why he was at the State House, he said, “I came to brief Mr. President about the situation in my state. I briefed him on the issues surrounding the inconclusive elections.
“The Returning Officer for Bauchi State at the end of collation, rejected the result of Tafawa Balewa local government and then 36 other units spread around 15 local governments of Bauchi state and ordered a rerun.
“Surprisingly, we woke up one morning and the independent National Electoral Commission came up with a procedure that is not known to law. Because, where a Returning Officer has declared the result, only an election petition tribunal can reverse the result. But INEC is attempting to reverse itself in the case of Bauchi.
“And when one juxtaposes that of Bauchi and other states with inconclusive elections, one wonders why that is happening only in Bauchi State.
“So, for that reason there is a need for me to come and brief Mr. President because what has the potential of touching on the security of the state.”
Asked as a legal practitioner and former INEC Commissioner whether the action of the commission (INEC) was illegal, he replied in the affirmative.
He said, “Of course it is definitely illegal. It is a straight forward matter. The returning officer is the final arbiter even with respect to scores and declaration of result. And once he makes a declaration, no power can reverse that declaration except duly constituted court of the land.”
When reminded that the INEC is an independent body and that his visit could be viewed as an attempt to use the President to influence the result of the rerun election in Bauchi State, he said, “No no no. I said I came to brief Mr. President, I am not seeking any action of Mr. President.
“We all know Mr. President, he is a stickler for procedure. What I pointedly told him was that I am not here to seek for you to interfere on our behalf sir but to brief you on what is happening and what actions I have taken.”
On his next line of action after the INEC has taken decision to cancel supplementary election in Tafawa Balewa local government area, he said, “One of which is that I am a lawyer and I am pursuing the legal angle. I briefed him and he emphasized on that legal angle that it is the best way to go.”
Also commenting on security in Bauchi State, Abubakar said that his administration was on top of the security situation and that he had ordered a ban on procession in the metropolis, adding that there the state was relatively calm.
Asked whether he was not satisfied with the meeting he had with the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo las week that made him to come again to the State House to see that President, he said that President Buhari was the last authority in every situation in the country.
He said, “There are procedures in this matter and levels of authority. I am a stickler for procedure, I started at the right place and I have also ended up at the right place.”
He said that he was prepared for any rerun election in the state, adding, “If they are going to do it now, we are ready. I don’t know who is afraid of anyone in Tafawa Balewa.”