We want to assure you that if the rescheduled elections are conducted in a free and transparent manner, based on rules set by your commission, then both you and the security agencies will have no cause to be apprehensive. If on the other hand both your lieutenants and the security agents seek to do otherwise, our people are resolved to protect their votes at all costs.
The above statement is contained in a press statement signed by Chairman, PDP Stakeholders forum of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Dr. John Ayuba, which was issued yesterday.
The statement further reads: Zangon Kataf is the home of PDP. It is the only LG in Kaduna that has two members in the KDHA and has never lost any of its Elections; it is the only LG in the state that has four of the founding fathers of the party from this state, but may we say that whoever wins in a clean, free, fair and transparent vote should be announced irrespective of the Party but Rigging in whatever form will certainly be resisted at all costs.
Having carefully observed and analysed the exercise of 4th September, we wish to draw your attention to the following anomalies that need to be corrected on or before the September 25th vote.
EVM: The introduction of electronic Voting via the EVM is a welcome development but certain things have to be put right. Since the next phase of election involves only 4 Local Governments, we strongly advice that all machines should be checked and double-checked to ascertain their functionality. We are aware that some of the machines were deliberately tampered with by some unscrupulous elements hired by APC agents. We therefore strongly suggest that a minimum of 5 standby EVM be stationed at every Ward HQ in the event of any machine developing issues.
Also, it was noticed in the last exercise that some machines were programmed to start work at late hours like 6pm again we suspect this was deliberate. This should be checked and dealt with.
Technicians: The EVM is a novel idea as such it can have problems. Again since only few LGs will participate, we strongly suggest that at least two Technicians be stationed at every Ward collation centre along with the standby machines. In the event of any breakdown, it will then take a short while before a technician arrives to fix it.
Closely related, we need a definite statement from SIECOM outlining any resort to manual Voting in the event of a faulty machine.
Returning Officers: One recurring decimal from the 2018 exercise that has reared its ugly head in the September 4th exercise is the issue of abscondment of ROs sadly with active connivance of security agents or highly placed commission staff. We appeal to you to find a way of seriously dealing with it because no SIECOM ad hoc staff Will be released until The RO is around and performs his duties. Accordingly, we suggest that only tested and trusted ROs be engaged as far as Zangon Kataf is concerned. Similarly, we suggest that you arrange standby Returning Officers because we believe this will repeat itself in Zangon Kataf but we won’t tolerate it.
Closely related to this, we suggest that Ward Returning Officer be issued with result sheets and other collation documents in the afternoon of election day in the presence of representatives of all interested political parties and at a mutually agreed time, while the LG Returning Officer(s) be issued with his/her own collation documents about 6 pm in our presence inside the LG collation Room for him/her to commence work immediately.
We are aware that ad hoc staff like Presiding Officers or Polling Clerks are changed at the instance of APC Govt political appointees with active connivance of your lieutenants. We want to say categorically that we won’t accept any polling or adhoc staff that was not trained and certified by you or EOs, otherwise it is an invitation to trouble.
LG Collation Centre: In the case of Sanga, security agents stopped our Ward Returning Officers from getting into the LG Collation Centre to hand over results of their wards to our LG collation officers. In the case of Zangon Kataf, no one will leave the collation centre until all our ward collation officers have been allowed in.
Similarly, over the years, our LG collation centre has always been the LG SIECOM office and it has served us well. Any attempt to relocate the collation office to any other place will not be tolerated.
Security: WE intend to submit our observation, lapses, connivance or complicity of the Security agencies to the Police High Command in the State, but since SIECOM is the overall umpire, the conduct of the Security should be done according to rules of engagement by your Commission. We therefore take this liberty to say how disappointed we are with the conduct of some security agents.
First, we want to be Very clear that we are used to being law abiding during elections resulting in its peaceful conduct, as such over-militarisation of the venues will only create or exacerbate tension. We therefore want to suggest that you step in to ensure that Voters or officials are not harassed or unduly treated. All accredited officials and agents should have unfettered access to voting or collation venues. If the Sanga or Igabi episodes are to repeat themselves, then no one will leave the venue.
We plead with you to explain to the Governor that his political employees would want to use the police and military to help them rig, but in Zangon Kataf what can help them is peaceful and civil conduct. His Excellency should call them to order.
In Jaba LG, a police officer was used to help the escape of some Returning Officers while in the presence of the Igabi DCO our State Secretary was beaten mercilessly. Zango is a different ball game.