By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kaduna State Chapter has decried several irregularities recorded during the February 23, 2019 Presidential/National Assembly elections, while charging the electoral empire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be transparent in its dealings.
Chairman of the party in the state, Hon. Felix Hassan Hyat expressed thus in a press briefing at the party’s state secretariat on Friday.
“INEC should be transparent, just and fair to all Parties as an unbiased umpire that it is supposed to be to ensure credible elections come 9th March, 2019,” he said.
Hyat also called on the security agencies to abide by their rules of engagement at all times and avoid complicity in a sensitive national exercise that has very far reaching impact in the survival, progress and unity of the country.
“Let me start this address by congratulating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for keeping to their promises by conducting the Presidential/National Assembly Elections nationwide on the rescheduled date of 23rd February, 2019. I also want to congratulate Nigerians and the people of Kaduna State in particular for the relative peace recorded despite the charged political and security atmosphere that prevailed,” he said.
The PDP chairman decried the change of trained polling officers with untrained ones.
“In preparation for promised free, fair and transparent elections, INEC trained its permanent staff. It also engaged the services of Ad-hoc Staff who were trained at various categories and levels.
“These trained Ad-hoc staff were tested after their training and successful ones shortlisted. Unfortunately, on the eve of the elections, the trained Ad-hoc staffs were REPLACED with strange names of untrained people. It was later discovered to have come from Government quarters.
“When confronted, INEC admitted and promised to withdraw them but did not. These untrained Ad-hoc staff were posted to PDP strongholds as a means of frustrating the Party and its supporters since the untrained Ad-hoc staff could neither operate the Card Readers successfully nor filled the results sheets correctly,” he said.
He lamented that INEC insisted on the use of Card Readers in the elections and made it clear that any Polling Unit where it is not used, the result is zero.
“Surprisingly, use of Card Readers was imposed in PDP strongholds only. Results of elections in many Poling Units were cancelled on the basis of this.
“Bishini Ward in Kachia Local Government, Wasa Ward in Sanga Local Government. However, Card Readers were not used in parts of Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Zaria, Igabi, Giwa, Sabon Gari, Soba etc. But such results were not cancelled. Insufficiently charged Card Readers were further deliberately programmed to frustrate us.
“This led to complaints from many Polling Units. Some Card Readers were deliberately interchanged leading to lack of functioning and waste of valuable time before correct ones were brought,” he added.
The main opposition party said that another area of great concern and outright manipulation by INEC to disenfranchise PDP supporters.
” Recorded shortage of materials was reported by us to INEC but distribution of such shortfalls was very late. In some instances, elections were concluded before the arrival of shortfall.
“There were reported cases of fake result sheets issued out by Electoral Officers at the Local Government levels. Only when protests were mounted before original ones were issued, e.g. in Jema’a Local Government Area. Most of the shortages were in the area of ballot papers where in some cases less than half were issued.
“Apart from shortfall of materials delivery to Polling Units was also another problem. Even within Kaduna Metropolis, materials didn’t reach many Polling Units till after 12noon. E.g. Narayi, Maraban Rido, Barnawa, Gonin-Gora, etc. These are also strongholds of the PDP,” the party pointed out.
Speaking further, he said that the exercise was done in complete secrecy to opposition parties but with input from APC/Government.
“Even when it was done in secret, the engaged Lecturers from the University remained a secret to other parties until at the point of assignment.
“If there was no hidden agenda in such an exercise, they should not have been engaged secretly, posted secretly.
“Even during the collation, many of them made compromising comments and adopted attitudes indicating their sympathy to the Government/APC. We seriously question the neutrality of INEC and the integrity of those engaged under such a secretive method,” Hyat queried.
On political parties agents at ward/local government collation centres, he alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission allowed two (2) agents per Party at every centre.
“However, only one was allowed for us at these centres. But all Government officials became Agents of the APC and the security personnel harassed and chased all others out. This gave the APC freedom to call for cancellation of votes from places they lost. The Collation Centres became gang-up Centres to enforce APC will. Votes of the people came under the mercy of APC to cancel at will,” he stressed.
On security, he said the elections were relatively peaceful, but this was not as a result of security agencies efforts.
“Far from it. It was the determination of the PDP and the good people of Kaduna State to prevent anything that could lead to a breakdown of law and order, thus denying the Government of Kaduna State the wanted opportunity to call for rescheduling of elections in the State.
“There were instances of intimidation and harassment by the security personnel in different parts of the State. Honourable Commissioners, Local Government Council Chairmen and other officials went about with armed Policemen and Soldiers intimidating and harassing voters e.g. at Kagarko, Ikara, Giwa, Zaria etc. The same behaviour was exhibited at Ward and Local Government Collation Centres.
“That there was relative peace during the elections does not mean that the elections were free and fair. There was unprecedented cancellation of votes at Collation Centres which was unidirectional. The final figures pronounced certainly do not represent the voting pattern of the electorates,” he lamented.
He thanked their teaming supporters for a good conduct demonstrated before, during and after the elections.
“We commend your peaceful approach to issues meant at creating crisis, which you swallowed successfully for peaceful elections to be held.
“We equally appreciate the whole good people of Kaduna State who demonstrated a high degree of patriotism and understanding that led to the peaceful conduct of the elections,” he said.
He therefore, called on all to team up with the PDP and come out en mass on 9th March, 2019 to change the present Government which he said has become a very heavy burden on the lives of the people.
“The battle has just began. God is on our side. Keep on the struggle. Don’t relent,” he assured.