Kaduna LG elections: How postponements, violence, ballot snatching, others marred exercise

  The Kaduna Local Government elections have come and gone, but residents have said that the experiences, setbacks, gains and lessons learnt...

 

The Kaduna Local Government elections have come and gone, but residents have said that the experiences, setbacks, gains and lessons learnt will linger on for a while.

The elections which held on Sept, 4 2021, was postponed three times.

The poll which was earlier scheduled to hold on May 15, 2021, was postponed to June 5, 2021. The postponement followed a series of complaints from stakeholders that, they were not given the mandatory 90- day notice before the commencement of the election.

The Acting Chairman of Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) then, Alhaji Ibrahim Sambo said, ” the commission was forced to postpone the poll over the non-availability of nonsensitive materials for the poll.

“The non-sensitive materials includess; batteries to power the Electronic Voting machines (EVM).”

Again, the KADSIECOM postponed the elections from June 5, 2021, to August, 14, 2021.

The reason, according to the chairman of the commission, was that the machine batteries were still being expected.

She told stakeholders on August 2, 2021, about another postponement of the Local Government Elections. This time, Kaduna State Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) Chairman, Mrs, Saratu Dikko-Audu apologised to all the stakeholders at the commission’s headquarters in Kaduna that the election had been postponed to September 4, 2021.

She said, ” We had earlier informed you that, we had to postpone the election that had been slated for 5th June 2021 to 14th August, 2021 because our machine batteries were still being expected.

” Although the batteries had arrived a day ago, the 12 days remaining to conduct the election was inadequate. The Commission needed to install the batteries in 6000 units of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

” We also need to install the software, upgrade the machines, test them, train our ad-hoc staff (about 16500), on the operation of the new system, then conduct voters’ education.”

Reacting to the postponement, PDP’s Danjuma told newsmen that, the postponement may not be unconnected to the “looming fall of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)” in the state should the election hold now.

According to Danjuma, “it is unfortunate that an electoral body like KADSIECOM will be postponing an election for up to three time over a flimsy excuse

Recall that the elections previously scheduled for August could not hold, as it was again, postponed to Sept 4, 2021 for the third time.

At the commission’s headquarters in Kaduna in August, the Chairman, Mrs. Saratu Audu announced that, ” may I announce to you that the election is now scheduled for September 4, 2021.

She said, ” I am glad to inform you that the long awaited batteries finally arrived SIECOM yesterday.”

But Kaduna PDP secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Wusono rejected the date, saying the party was not comfortable with the postponement.

He said then, that, ” At our last meeting, they requested that we should suggest a date for the election, but we rejected it, because we knew that, they are not serious people.”

However, prior to the September 4, 2021 Local Government Elections in the state, the KADSIECOM then, announced on September 3, 2021 that it postponed the elections of four local government areas; Kajuru, Birnin Gwari, Zagon Kataf, and Chikun LGAs.
The Commission chairman, Mrs. Saratu Audu-Dikko, in a statement on September 3, 2021 said the postponement was due to security reasons.

She said the elections in the four local government will now hold on September 25.

“I have been reliably informed by security architecture within the State, that security reports within the State would make it impossible to peacefully conduct the Local Government Councils election in a number of local government areas.

“Consequently, in order to protect lives and property, including those of our staff and materials, we have had to suspend election in a number of local government areas,” she said.

She urged politicians and citizens of Kaduna State, to conduct themselves in a manner that would ensure peaceful election.

“KADSIECOM, on its part, is committed to conducting an election that is free, fair, credible and non-violent,” she promised.

Reacting to the postponement of elections in four local government areas of Kaduna state, Mr. Abraham Alberah Catoh, State Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in a statement on Thursday evening said, PDP, wonders, “why the Commission has decided to deceive the aspirants into believing that elections would hold in their respective Local Governments, only for the SIECOM to postpone the elections in those Local Governments just a few hours to the election, knowing fully well about the security challenges in the state.”

According to him, it was just yesterday(Wednesday) that the State Independent Electoral Commission deployed sensitive and non-sensitive materials to those Local Governments.

“The Commission has the security information before embarking on these distributions. We see the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob in all of these,” the statement said.

The party described as absurd for the Commission to have told the citizens that it was due to the escalation of security situation in those places.

“We condemn in its entirety, the arbitrary rescheduling of the Local Government elections the fourth time.

“We call on the KAD-SIECOM to sit up and do its job without external interference from contrived “security reports” that were tele-guided by vested interests from the ruling party,” the statement said.

It called on PDP members to remain calm, and be prepared to vote for all the Councillorship and Chairmanship candidates across the remaining 19 Local Government Areas of the State.

The elections which was characterized with snatching of over 41 electronic voting machines and voter apathy, was finally held in all the 19 local government areas of the state on September 4, 2021.

It was reported that several voting machines were snatched by hoodlums in Giwa and Igabi local government areas of the state.

The chairman of Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission, Mrs. Saratu Audu-Dikko who confirmed the development said, ” 30 EVMs were carried away at Kwarau in Igabi Local Government, while two machines were destroyed. Nine voting machines were also destroyed in Panhauya, Giwa local government.

” The hoodlums also carted away election materials and assaulted the driver and staff of the commission conveying materials,” She narrated.

In most voting centres, turnout was reportedly low, as residents/voters were scared of attack.

However, the elections results which had since been announced, showed that the APC won both Chairmanship and Councilorship positions despite challenges that characterised the election.

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