Amidst allegations of interference by the federal government in Taraba elections, results for the governorship election was suspended on Sunday.
Taraba is one of the 29 states where governorship elections were held on Saturday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how days before the election, some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were arrested by operatives of the SSS which gave no reason for the arrest. The PDP then alleged it was a ploy by the federal agency to weaken the party and win the state for Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress (APC) at all cost.
While all or large parts of results of the governorship elections have been announced in most of the 29 states, no local government’s result was announced at the Taraba collation centre until Sunday evening.
Even then, it was promptly suspended after results from two local governments were announced.
The announcement which only started at about 5 pm on Sunday was abruptly called off by the Returning Officer for Taraba State, Iya Shehu, after results from only two of the state’s 16 local governments had been announced.
The returning officer said there was an inconclusive election in one of the wards in the next local government to be treated hence his decision to suspend the entire process and reconvene by noon on Monday.
His decision was, however, questioned by observers at the collation centre.
“This is quite strange, if there was an issue with the local government then he should have moved to next one” one of the party agents at the Jalingo office of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC queried.
Before the suspension of further announcements, the results from Gassol and Zing local governments had been declared.
The Collation Officer for Gassol, S.U Malu, announced that the APC had the highest number of votes from the local government.
The APC in Gassol had 46,385 votes while the PDP had 28,181 votes.
In Zing LG, it was the PDP that claimed victory; recording 31,619 votes compared to the 7,105 recorded by the APC.
There was however a long debate on the authenticity of the result from Zing as the APC agent present at the collation centre alleged that there was a flagrant disregard for the due process in Zing LG.
The APC agent claimed that card readers were not deployed as mandated and that the 55 per cent turnout that is being reflected in the result form ZING calls for questioning as the average turnout for the polls nationally was barely 25 per cent.
The PDP agent also at the Jalingo centre, however, raised an observation that the INEC office in Jalingo was meant to be a result collation centre and not a complaint collation centre.
Earlier, Bala Dan Abu, Senior Special Assistant to the Taraba State Governor on Media and Publicity told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no need to exercise any fear on the slow pace of announcement of results as they are sure the PDP is winning.
We are not worried and have no reason to be worried, we believe we win the election and win it very well, all we are asking for is that people should not be allowed to disrupt the process and lets get to end of it all peacefully
There have been attempts by the APC to disrupt the process, they have been taking gunmen around to frighten people, cajole them to change results, this must not be allowed, he said.
Despite the presence of other candidates, the Taraba governorship election is a two-horse race between the incumbent governor, Darius Ishaku of the PDP, and a former acting governor of the state, Sani Danladi, who is vying on the platform of the All Progressives Congress Primaries (APC).
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Danladi was earlier barred by a federal high court in Jalingo from running in the election after he was found culpable of falsifying his age. The appeal court, however, granted a stay of execution of the high court ruling and ordered he be allowed to run in the election.
Mr Fintiri is believed to enjoy the support of the presidency in the election.