Zangon Kataf: PDP warns against election rigging, suggests ways out

2 months ago 27

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, has said it will only accept whoever wins in a clean, free, fair and transparent vote irrespective of the party, adding that rigging in whatever form will certainly be resisted at all costs.

Recall that Zangon Kataf, alongside Kajuru, Chikun and Brinin-Gwari local government areas could not vote in the 4th September 2021 council election which the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) attributed to security challenges.

In a letter, “rescheduled local government elections in Zangon Kataf local government”, addressed to the chairman KADSIECOM and copied to Kaduna State Commissioner of Police; State Director, SSS; DPO Zangon Kataf LG; Asst Commissioner of Police Kafanchan and Coordinator, Operation Safe Haven, Southern Kaduna; and signed by Chairman, PDP stakeholders Forum and Chairman, Local Government Party, Dr. John Ayuba and Mr. Sam Bassa said the local government is home of PDP.

The letter said in as much they desire to conduct free, fair and credible elections, they noted that they have serious reservations with the top lieutenants of the commission, sections of the security agents as well as what they called “overzealous” government political appointees.

“They are the albatross of peaceful credible elections in Kaduna State. Please take note and do the needful. We however pray that God will grant you the will to prevail,” the letter explained.

According to the letter, “We plead with you to explain to the Governor that his political employees 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.”

The party noted that it wants to be very clear that their members are used to being law-abiding during elections resulting in its peaceful conduct, observing that over-militarisation of the venues would only create or exacerbate tension.

It explained, “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.”

The letter said that they intend to submit their observation, lapses, connivance or complicity of the security agencies to the Police High Command in the State, but observed that since SIECOM is the overall umpire, the conduct of the security should be done according to rules of engagement by the commission.

It noted that on collation centre, it observed that in the case of Sanga, security agents stopped their Ward Returning Officers from getting into the local government Collation Centre to hand over results of their wards to the local government collation officers, saying that in the case of Zangon Kataf, no one will leave the collation centre until all their ward collation officers have been allowed in.

It observed that over the years, their local government collation centre has always been the local government SIECOM office and it has served them well, stressing that any attempt to relocate the collation office to any other place will not be tolerated.

“We are aware that ad hoc staff like Presiding Officers or Polling Clerks are changed at the instance of APC Govt political appointees with the active connivance of your lieutenants. We want to say categorically that we won’t accept any polling or ad-hoc staff that was not trained and certified by you or Executive Officers, otherwise, it is an invitation to trouble,” the letter said.

The letter explained 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 Local Government Returning Officer(s) be issued with his/her own collation documents about 6 pm in the presence of the people inside the Local Government collation room for him/her to commence work immediately.

It suggested that only tested and trusted Returning Officers be engaged as far as Zangon Kataf is concerned, adding that the commission should arrange standby Returning Officers to avoid any problem that may arise.

It was noticed in the last council election, some machines were programmed to start work at late hours like 6 pm again, and suspected to be deliberate, suggesting that since only a few Local Governments would participate, 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.

The letter noted that voting via the Electronic Voting Machine is a welcome development, since the next phase of election involves only four Local Governments, it advised 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 five standby Electronic Voting Machine be stationed at every Ward Headquarters in the event of any machine developing issues,” the letter suggested.

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