Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Labaran Maku laments PDP’s loss in Nasarawa polls

Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku has blamed high scale rigging perpetrated by the state administration for the electoral setback suffered by the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in the local government election held in the state on Saturday.
Labaran Maku accused the Nasarawa State Independent Electoral Commission of colluding with the ruling APC government to subvert the will of the people to deny the PDP victory in the elections.
The minister made the remarks while addressing party supporters who were protesting the conduct of the election, indicating that the PDP would contest the results of the polls in the courts.
Mr. Maku said it was unfortunate that several presiding and returning officers‎ tactically disappeared from the polling centres, without announcing the results which was contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Law, when it was apparent that the PDP was clearly leading in the polls.
"The rest of the story is that wherever electoral materials were supplied and the election was conducted, when they see that the PDP is winning, they will just instruct the presiding officers and returning officers to run away from the collation centres. In Lafia Local Government, people stayed up till Sunday in protest in the various wards. The people to collect and declare the results were not there, the presiding officers were not there.
"The same thing happened in virtually all the local governments. The returning officers ran away because the result was not favourable to the ruling APC in the state," he stated. 
Mr. Maku regretted that despite the enthusiasm the people displayed in the election through large turnout, the electoral commission failed to provide electoral materials on time and in some cases, no materials were sent to strong holds of the PDP.
"‎The problem we have in the state rests with the electoral officers employed by the Nasarawa State Independent Electoral Commission. I do not know whether ‘independent’ is still worthy to be mentioned here because the Nasarawa State Independent Electoral Commission played pranks across the state.
“We had major problems in the conduct of the election from the commission. In some places electoral materials went late. For example in Toto, in some places in Karu, some electoral wards did not receive materials at all," Mr. Maku alleged.
The Minister alleged particularly that just before the conduct of the election in Toto Local Government, the adhoc staff trained for the exercise were changed with unknown persons suspected to be supporters of the ruling APC.
Mr. Maku described how dangerous weapons were freely used in some polling centres to snatch ballot papers or chase away voters especially members of the PDP.
Hear him: "There was violence in Toto where people brought out knives and cutlasses and chased away party agents and officials. In one of these instances, the PDP state chairman was manhandled.
"In Masaka and Mararaba, people brought out knives, cutlasses and guns and chased away voters in two electoral wards. In Awe Local Government, the ballot papers, from the report I got, were snatched on arrival. There was no question of the papers being distributed. So, we understand that there have been thumb-printing in some places to proclaim results in elections that didn't take place."
The minister said he was confident that from available reports, the PDP was leading in ten out of the thirteen local government areas in the state where election took place and demanded that results should be rewritten to reflect the realities on the ground. 
Mr. Maku said it was evident that APC could not have won the local government election in Nasarawa State because politicians of note in the state have returned to the PDP.
He stressed that the APC had virtually collapsed into the PDP before the election with the return of key officials including the state’s deputy governor, Mr. Damishe Luka, Senator Solomon Ewuga, two members of the House Representatives ‎among other notable personalities.
He added that currently, the PDP controls the State House of Assembly with nineteen out of the 24 members and reminded the electoral officials that for democracy to take root in the country, the process of free and fair election must be grounded at the grass roots.



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