The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented the Certificate of Return to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
Governor Bello received the certificate on Thursday, three days after he was declared as the winner of the just concluded governorship election in the state.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Nasarawa, Kogi, and Kwara States, Mohammed Haruna, presented the certificate to the governor at a ceremony attended by the Commissioner of Police in Kogi which held at the INEC office in Lokoja, the state capital.
The re-elected Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello on Tuesday reacted to his victory at the just-concluded election which he described as free and fair.
Bello who spoke during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily accepted that there was violence during the election but added that this is not enough to the election.
“The conduct of the election was quite very credible, a level-playing field was provided and it was free and fair. In every election, there is bound to be one issue or the other and you can’t take a pocket of issues to judge the general conduct of the election.
“Regarding the comment of the civil society organisation, they are entitled to their own opinion but let us know the parameters with which they are judging this election.
“How many polling units did they visit out of 2,548 polling units, 239 wards and 21 local governments across the difficult terrains of this state? How many people have they reached out to?
“Have they interviewed all the electorates? So what are their yardsticks.?” The governor queried.
Bello’s reaction comes after criticisms by many civil society groups including the European Union (EU) which condemned the reports of widespread incidents of violence and voter intimidation.
The Diplomatic Watch on Sunday expressed alarm at the reports of fatalities and missing people during the Kogi election and urged stakeholders to call for calm.
“We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi. There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families,” their statement read in part.
The Diplomatic Watch deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States to monitor Kogi and Bayelsa state elections on November 16.
Also, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA Africa), on Sunday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a new election in Kogi State following reported cases of violence, vote-buying, and manipulation of voters.
YIAGA explained that the elections in the state did not reflect the preferences of voters because they were not given genuine opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
The Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD), on Monday said 10 deaths and 129 cases of violence and electoral crimes were recorded in the just concluded polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The Spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council, Kogi State, Faruk Adejoh-Audu says he cannot congratulate Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello because Kogi State was turned into a war field during the Saturday election.
Adejoh-Audu said the election was marred by violence, claiming that nine PDP members were killed during the election.
He also explained how the PDP women leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area, Salome Abuh, was burnt to death in her home by political thugs.
“I will have congratulated Governor Yahaya Bello but unfortunately, I cannot because he won no election. What he won was a war waged by him and the Nigerian Police, so I cannot congratulate him.
“His claim that there were just pockets of violence is incorrect. There is hardly any ward in Kogi State except a few that did not experience violence.
“Violence is not necessarily when people die, but in this case, people died. At least nine people died, all of them were PDP members. The 10th person was killed after the announcement of result yesterday and it was the PDP woman leader of Ochadamu ward,” Audu said.
He also insisted that the Kogi election was a war and not an election.
“We came out for an election but it turned out to be a war with the Nigerian Police, the security agencies and Yahaya Bello members of staff.”
Meanwhile, the PDP governorship candidate in Kogi State, Mr Musa Wada, have rejected the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He described the election as a declaration of war against citizens of Kogi State and insisted on using every legal means to reclaim his mandate.
It was a tough day in Kogi and Bayelsa States where INEC conducted elections on Saturday last week as the exercise recorded loss of lives, attack on polling units by suspected thugs, and ballot box snatching among other unfortunate incidents.
While residents of both states headed to various polling units in their respective local governments to cast their votes, the people of Kogi West senatorial district had an extra duty to perform.
The electorate in the senatorial zone also voted in the rerun election to choose who would represent them in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly between Senator Dino Melaye of the PDP and APC’s Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Although the poll favoured Senator Adeyemi who scored 80,118 votes as against the 59,548 votes garnered by Senator Melaye, the election was declared inconclusive.
The returning officer for the election, Professor Olayinde Lawal, explained that the margin of 20,570 votes between both candidates was lower than the 43,127 registered voters in 53 polling units of 20 registration areas in the zone where elections were cancelled.
He informed party agents and others present at the collation centre that he was constrained by the law to declare a winner in such a situation.
The collation of the Kogi governorship election results continued on Monday at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters in Lokoja, the state capital.
This comes barely one day after the commission postponed the exercise till Monday, following the collation of results from 19 out of the 21 local government areas of the state.
INEC’s Returning Officer for the election and Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Umar, had informed party agents and others at the collation centre on Sunday that the exercise would continue on Monday.
“We came and met Kogi State heavily divided a lot of ethnic issues but today it is a thing of the past.
“We were able to unite Kogi State, no more ethnic agenda, what we have is the Kogi agenda.
“Anybody that is planning any ethnic agenda or those that brought us to where we are and we are trying to get out of it.
“Ethnicity and ethnic agenda are what brought Nigeria to its knees and Mr. President is pulling that out of the woods”.
Also present at the rally was the wife of the President Aisha Buhari, wife of Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, Governor of Ekiti State Kayode Fayemi and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State went all out on Thursday, going down on his knees to canvass support for Governor Yahaya Bello’s re-election bid.
El-Rufai who is also the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Gubernatorial Campaign in Kogi State made the gesture at a mega rally held for the governor in the state capital Lokoja.
“Many people say Yahaya Bello is young and that he has fought many people. For every one that the governor has offended, I am asking all of you to forgive him. He is young, he is supposed to make mistakes. When you are young, you make mistakes, but you are supposed to learn from him. On his behalf, I am kneeling down to beg all of you to forgive Yahaya Bello if he has offended you,” the governor said.
Beyond seeking forgiveness for whatever mistakes the governor had made, Governor El-Rufai praised him for his performance and took a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party, urging the people to “bury PDP once and for all”.
He claimed that although the PDP had ruled the state for a long time, they “have done nothing” in the state.
“In the past four years, the progress recorded by the APC government under Governor Yahaya Bello is more than what the PDP has tried to do in 13 years,” he said.
Whatever might have happened in the first tenure of Governor Bello, El-Rufai appealed to the people to know that he cares about the people of Kogi State.
Singing Bello’s praises, El-Rufai said, “He cares about this state, he has brought progress to this state, he has brought young people into government, he has brought women into government. He has brought physical progress; he has cleared salary arrears that he inherited from previous governments. “You must all come out and support him. I beg you all.”
Among those who canvassed support for the Kogi governor at the rally ahead of Saturday’s election were the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari; wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; and the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has described as ‘fabricated’ the reports that he has stepped down as the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Council of Kogi state, saying that he will continue to campaign to persuade re-election of Yahaya Bello as governor of the state for a second term.
Kogi State will head to the polls on Saturday, November 16, 2019, to vote for a governor who will govern them for the next four years.
In a statement issued on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, El Rufai reminded the purveyors of the rumour, that it is well-known that he gives his best to all his assignments, and the Kogi election will not be different.
‘’The people of Kogi State will make their free choice at the ballot. Therefore, every political actor has a duty to ensure that the voters act on the basis of accurate information, not lies and fake news.
“I will be on the ground in Kogi this week as the APC works for another democratic mandate.”
The statement added that “APC will continue to campaign to persuade the people of Kogi State to renew the mandate they gave our party four years ago. That is the focus of the Malam Nasir El-Rufai and the members of the APC Campaign Council.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, as Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Kogi state National Campaign Council, to steer clear of the state.
In a statement by its spokeman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP asked Governor El-Rufai to counsel Governor Yahaya Bello to accept defeat, claiming that the opposition will take the day come November the 16th.
The PDP in its statement claimed that knows that Governor Bello cannot point to any development project or initiative in his administration, adding that under the governor’s watch, Kogi has been reduced to the poorest state in the country.
“If the APC means well for Kogi state, the party should not be wasting its time to campaign but rather counsel Yahaya Bello to use the remaining days of his abysmal tenure to show remorse, pay up the 36 month arrears he owes workers and pensioners, restitute for those who died because of his suppressive rule and get ready with his handover notes.
“The APC Campaign Council should come to terms with the fact that the people of Kogi state had made up their minds to repay Yahaya Bello in his own coin by kicking him out of office,” the PDP stated.