Crime & Law
Many injured, vehicles damaged as suspected APC thugs attack collation centre
Many people were allegedly injured and more than 10 vehicles suffered various levels of damage when suspected thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) attacked supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the House of Representatives collation centre for Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Constituency in Bununu town in Bauchi State.
A former Senior Special Assistant on Media to Yakubu Dogara, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Iliya Habila, in an interview with journalists, said he narrowly escaped being lynched by the thugs who were armed to the teeth.
Habila, a former Chairman, Bogoro Local Government Area and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, who also spoke to journalists in the state said that the constituency election was marred by irregularities and violence.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had announced the candidate of the APC , Ja’afar Leko, as the winner of the election ahead of that of the PDP, Kefas Magaji.
But Habila, a journalist turned politician who is an ally of the PDP candidate, said they were robbed of the election that should have been theirs.
READ ALSO :I’ll reclaim my victory in Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa election – PDP Reps candidate
“As a supporter of the PDP and one of the key supporters of Kefas Magaji, we were there to witness the collation of results, suddenly, we saw thugs in trucks being brought to Bununu. We were surprised how the collation centre was transferred from Zwall to Bununu. Then later in the evening, we knew that obviously the reason behind it (transfer of the collation centre) was to cause confusion and then allow them to perpetrate the evil they had.
“For hours, they held the electoral officials to ransom, for hours, they held security agencies to ransom and within a corner, a primary school, which they condone off and they were perpetrating that kind of evil. In fact, it took the intervention of military personnel to go and bring out the concocted results and later on, they started unleashing terror on everybody that was perceived not to be with them. I also escaped by the whiskers.
“When most of our supporters had been driven away, they knew that it was a fertile ground for them to announce the concocted results they had. In fact, it was around 1am that they announced the results on Monday in a very nocturnal way and this is not acceptable. We were robbed of this victory, he was supposed to have been announced the winner, but it was a broad daylight robbery.
He also added that many people were injured and had to run for dear lives. Also, more than 10 vehicles were destroyed. According to him, thugs were imported from communities to cause mayhem and distort the election.
Also speaking, the PDP candidate, a former Special Adviser on Legal Matters to the Bauchi State Governor, rejected the result of the election vowing that he would recover his mandate in the court.
The one-time Caretaker Committee Chairman of Tafawa Balewa LGA, said the voting was peaceful in all the polling units with the exception of a few areas that experienced challenges until the collation of results.
He narrated that “at the time of collation, 30 of the wards brought in their results in good time because immediately after the election, counting started and late in the evening (on Saturday), results started coming in. Surprisingly, in Bununu ward which is the host of the three LGAs, results were delayed.
“The next morning, which was Sunday, results were turned in from the remaining electoral wards of the LGAs but Bununu ward was not turned in until about 6 to 7 pm on Sunday which was very unusual.
“The venue of the collation centre was so tight as there were thugs around and the entrance was mounted with a heavy barricade which made it impossible for anybody to know what was happening. From reports, they collated the results about five times; surprisingly, when the Collation Officer took the results of the three LGAs to the collation centre in Bununu, the results were returned on grounds that the computations were not properly done and that there were so many errors.
“For the first time, instead of allowing the Presiding Officers who are the masters of election results to compute the results, the Electoral Officer for Tafawa Balewa took over the whole exercise and at the end of the day, they came up with a result that was not in consonance with the votes that was cast in that ward.”
Magaji stated that before the Bununu result was released, they made sure that “thugs were recruited who were fully armed with AK-47, cutlasses and machetes. It was at that time, they brought out the result from Bununu and it was late in the night when they knew that bringing in the result at the time, they were supposed to bring it in, the APC will definitely lose that election. So what they did was to ensure that the election result was delayed and that is the area that we are not so comfortable with.”
According to him, despite the delays and the “manipulations that they did in the election result,” they discovered that there were cases of over-voting alleging that instead of cancelling the results because of the over-voting, they refused.
“From the entire results they announced, the APC candidate got about 1,800 votes over me, but if they had counted the votes genuinely, certainly by all standards, I would have won the election. We are taking up this matter before the election tribunal to ensure that this case is pursued through the legitimate means in order to reclaim my mandate” he said.