The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, winner of the Kano State governorship supplementary election held Saturday 23rd March, 2019 . Governor Ganduje was trailing the PDP Candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf at the end of the first election held on March 9, 2019 by a significant margin. In the supplementary election held in 28 out of the 44 local government areas of the state, Ganduje won by scoring 45,876 votes to Yusuf’s 10,239 thereby up turning the result in his favour. The State Returning Officer, Professor Bello Shehu, announced that Governor Ganduje scored a total vote of 1,033,695 while Abba Yusuf polled 1,024,713 given the winning margin of 8,982 between the two major candidates. This was a surprising result as in places where PDP was far ahead, the tides turned and the massive results emerged for the APC.

As an observer, I had noticed during our rounds that the massive presence of thugs had depressed voter turnout so how did the 32% voter turnout during the previous election scale up to turn the tide. I asked an Assistant Presiding Officer to recount what he saw happen in his polling unit. For his security, this traumatised student of Bayero University does not want his name or polling unit revealed.

The APO recounted that his involvement was through Bayero University who had asked students interested in being ad hoc election staff to fill forms, he did and was selected and posted to Nasarawa Local Government. He took part in the Presidential/National Assembly as well as the Governorship/State House Elections and had very good memories of both. He was charged with the smart card reader, which worked well and only those voters who were authenticated were allowed to vote in the two previous elections. He said the whole process was free and fair and he felt he was playing an important civic role for his country.

For the supplementary elections, he had reported to Gama Tudu Primary School, his Registration Area Centre (RAC) which was also the Ward collation centre at 7.30 pm on Friday, 22nd March, 2019, that is the night before the election as directed by INEC. All ad hoc staff comprising most students and youth corps members were expected to spend the night there. He recalls there was a large number of policemen and civil defence corps personnel and they felt safe initially. Their trauma, he said, started at 10 pm that Friday night when mobile policemen came into the school and ordered the youth corps and student ad hoc staff out of the premises without any explanation. They refused to go out and they were tear gassed out. It turned out it was simply an exercise of verification that they were the genuine names on the list. After the verification, the were allowed back in. He said they got very confused why they were tear gassed for a simple verification exercise because they would not have resisted had they been told it was a verification exercise.

At midnight, they realised the school was completely surrounded by thugs armed with clubs, swords and machetes. No one could sleep he explained. At 7.30am, that is Saturday morning, the day of the election security personnel escorted them to their respective polling units and had to set up surrounded by thugs. The first rule set by the thugs was that no cameras or cell phones must be used by anybody. Clearly, they did not want images of what was happening to be recorded he explained. He said he felt so harassed that he took his phone to a nearby house and requested that they keep it for him. Trouble started at 11am when the thugs attacked and they all ran away with their materials. Subsequently, the thugs were cleared temporarily by the police and they returned and voting resumed. By 1 pm however, the thugs took over control of the voting process with police complicity who were present throughout. The thugs threatened to kill the ad hoc staff if they refused to cooperate. By this time all the PDP agents had been chased out. According to him the result of the polling unit was fabricated in the following manner:

1) First, the thugs came with 200 already thumb-printed ballot papers and stuffed them in the ballot box.
2) Secondly, they took out the ballots already thumb-printed for PDP during the polling and thumb-printed them again to turn them into spoilt ballots.
3) Thirdly, he was forced to sign additional ballot papers which the thugs thumb-printed for the APC.
4) Finally, the ad hoc staff were forced to record the compromised results on result sheets and they were taken to the INEC office.

The APO explained he worked under duress because his life was threatened. He said they were held hostage by the thugs and were not allowed to go out to look for food to eat and his next meal came 24 hours later only after he got home. His conclusion is that he would never participate in any other election in any capacity for the rest of his life. SAD. It would be great if other ad hoc staff could write up their stories.

A professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.