The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that the Bauchi South senatorial election will hold on August 11, 2018.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ibrahim Abdullahi, who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the INEC headquarters, explained that the commission had received a letter from the senate declaring the Bauchi South senatorial seat vacant on the July 13, 2018.
The stakeholders included various political parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, security agencies and the media.
The Bauchi South senatorial seat became vacant when Senator Ali Wakili reportedly slumped and was rushed to the National Hospital, Abuja but was declared dead on March 17, 2018.
He further explained that based on the Senate’s action and in line with Section 76 (2) and 25 (2) of the Electoral Act, INEC is mandated to conduct a by-election to fill the vacuum within 30 days.
According to him, elections will be held in 445 voting points, 1,499 polling units in 75 wards of the seven local government areas of Bauchi, Toro, Dass, Tafawa Balewa, Bogoro, Alkaleri and Kirfi, that make up the senatorial district.
Abdullahi who said that about 70,000 permanent voter’s cards are still with the commission which had yet to be collected by their owners, appealed to politicians that “that magic you use in mobilising people to come out during elections to vote for you, please use that same strategy to make people come out and claim the over 70,000 PVCs yet to be collected across the local government areas of the state.”
While urging politicians and political parties not to be deceived by the crowd that openly show them support, he advised them that “some of them do not even have PVCs while some will forget to pick theirs to the election.
According to him, “So I appeal to you all to encourage all your supporters to come and collect their cards so they can use them to vote for you and your party.”
The INEC boss said only those who voted in the 2015 general election and those who have collected their PVCs as at December 2017 are the eligible voters in the by-election on August 11, 2018.
He said the commission had improved the system of voting, explaining that there would be continuous accreditation and voting during the election, and that voters would be accredited and allowed to cast their votes immediately.
The REC appealed to political parties to join hands with the commission to ensure a hitch-free by-election, promising that “INEC would be fair to all and create a level-playing ground for all.”
He promised that vote-buying which he said was an “inducement” of the electoral process as witnessed in the last election in Ekiti State would not be cordoned, as culprits would be punished.
Meanwhile, the Katsina State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state of what it described as ‘frequent’ involvement of government officials and security agents in ballot box snatching and other election irregularities.
The party said the act, if not checked, would truncate the credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections in the state.
The chairman of the party in the state, Alhaji Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, who stated this during the INEC stakeholders meeting ahead of the by-election into the Katsina North Senatorial district on Thursday, said the Dutsi/Mashi by-election last year was marred by irregularities.
He said: “The Dutsi/Mashi by-election held last year witnessed the snatching of ballot boxes in 25 polling units by government officials in synergy with security agencies.
“We wrote to the INEC in Abuja and that led to the cancellation of 15 out of 25 polling units and a re-run was conducted.”
According to him, “If the government of the day and security agents who are supposed to ensure that the elections are conducted free and fair are involved in ballot box snatching, how secure are the electorate to exercise their franchise?.
“If this by-election (Katsina North Senatorial district) will succeed, these things must be taken into consideration.”
But the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Katsina, Jibrin Ibrahim Zarewa, said the commission is ready to conduct free and fair polls in the state.
The INEC commissioner explained that the timetable for the by-election would be released Friday, July 20, pointing out that the commission has from now till August 12th to conduct the elections.
While soliciting for cooperation from stakeholders, Zarewa said a total of 7,727 ad hoc staff, including corps members, students and staff of federal ministries, would be engaged to assist the commission to conduct the free and fair by-election in the senatorial zone.
“The election will be held in 12 council areas in 1,577 polling units of the zone, with more than 800,000 people expected to cast their votes. I am calling on political parties in the state to get ready for campaigns and other related activities,” Zarewa said.
The senator representing Katsina North Senatorial district, Senator Mustapha Bukar, had died on April 4 after a brief illness, hence the by-election.