Halima is one of 75,403 voters affected by the cancellation of results in Sokoto state.
Since Saturday March, 9 when the Governorship election took place, she has felt gobsmacked by the experience she had.
“We spent all the hours under the sun with people jostling and pushing us, we ended up without casting our votes as some thugs stormed the polling unit and destroyed the election materials. There was panic and everybody fled.”
Halima who was out as early as 6am to cast her ballot, added: “I have never encountered such a situation since 10 years now that I have been going out to vote.”
In Sokoto, 136 polling units in 22 local government areas of the state were noted to have been affected by the cancellation of election in the areas due to wanton destruction of electoral materials, manhandling of INEC staff, ballot box snatching, and over-voting, among others.
Many have blamed politicians for igniting disruptions that led to the cancellation of election in some polling units in Sokoto resulting in the inconclusiveness of the Governorship election in the state.
“Rather than blaming INEC for declaring Sokoto Governorship election as inconclusive, politicians should blame themselves. Do they expect that they would disenfranchise such a large number of voters and get away with it,’’ Halima asked.
Also, a Local Election Observer, Ibrahim Adamu noted: “It has never happened in the history of Sokoto. The disruptions witnessed in most of these areas were ignited by politicians. It was tactical and pre-arranged. Politicians formented trouble in areas they foresaw as stronghold of their opponents.”
He decried the do-or-die posture of politicians, noting that their aim of perpetuating violence had been defeated with the planned supplementary elections in places where elections were cancelled. “Most of the politicians did not know that if elections are cancelled a supplementary election would be conducted in the affected areas if the margin between the two leading parties is lower than the total number of voters in areas elections were cancelled.”
In the build-up to the March 9 Governorship election in Sokoto state, concerns were rife in the state over threats of violence which prompted calls by well-meaning individuals and organisations for peaceful polls.
But, such calls might have fallen into deaf ears as Sokoto was noted to have recorded cases of disruptions which led to the cancellation of results in affected areas that eventually impacted on the outcome of the polls.
According to the final results, PDP garnered 489,558 votes while APC got 486,145 votes, giving a difference of 3,413. On the other hand, the number of voters in areas where the exercise was cancelled was 75,403,which necessitated the declaration of the polls by INEC as inconclusive.
A youth leader, Ali Ibrahim also observed: “Majority of disruptions were engineered by politicians who sponsored thugs to unleash terror and disrupt the electoral process. The supplementary election should teach such politicians lessons that violence would not pay.”
He lauded INEC for sticking to its guidelines, adding that supplementary elections would give clear picture of the winner of the polls as those disenfranchised would have another opportunity to exercise their civic duty.
A political analyst, Yusuf Hamza pointed out: ”While result for each of the 23 local government areas was being revealed, many ignored the detailed account of cancellation of votes that were given by the respective Returning Officers.
“Those who took particular note of the reports on cancellation and reasons adduced would have noted the trend of cancellations due to disruptions of voting materials and over voting
in each local government area even before the total cancellation for the state was announced by the state Collation Officer.”
On those protesting the declaration of the election as inconclusive, Halima described them as “sponsored, selfish people who do not have the interest of the people at heart. It is sad that they are not even concerned that there were disruptions of the elections in various
polling units across 22 out of 23 local government areas of the state.”
Residents spoken to urged INEC and security agencies to ensure ample arrangement for the supplementary election since such election would only hold in some polling units and in few states of the federation.
They also stressed the need for those involved in the disruptions to be arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others. The Police Public Relations Officer, Sokoto Command ASP Abubakar Sadiq Muhammad said some arrests had been made in connection with the disruption of the electoral process. He, however, did not give the number saying investigations were still on.
“What I can give you now is that we have made some arrests regarding electoral violence, I can’t give you figures. A lot of them are still under investigation and of course some may end up not being proved guilty.”
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