Kogi APC, Melaye ask Bello to quit over alleged electoral fraud
The leadership of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kogi State has asked Governor Yahaya Bello to resign or be impeached over double voter registration.The party, which made this call at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, declared that the alleged involvement of Bello in double voter’s registration has embarrassed and impugned on the party’s image.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had through its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Solomon Soyebi, on Tuesday alleged that Bello registered twice as a voter.
Soyebi dissociated the commission from the alleged infraction of the electoral law.Bello registered as a voter for the second time on Tuesday, May 23 in Government House, Lokoja, having earlier registered on January 30, 2011 in Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.
While INEC vowed to take disciplinary action against its erring staff, it stated that Section 308 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, precludes the commission from prosecuting Bello as a sitting governor.
Chairman of the state chapter of the APC, Alhaji Hadi Ametuo, who briefed journalists along with other party leaders in the state including, Senators Dino Melaye, Mohammed Ohiare, Ocheja Dangana and Abdulrahman Abubakar, pointed out that APC would not fold its arm and allow Bello destroy its image and integrity.
Ametuo further stated that double registration is a serious electoral crime, as pointed out by INEC, and should not be ignored, saying: “This is the kind of crime that the state House of Assembly, which enjoys the mandate of the people cannot be overlooked.”
Melaye, representing Kogi West, who has been having a running battle with the governor in recent times over diverging political interest, added that what the governor did underscored the fact that he was not a registered voter in Kogi State abinitio.
Melaye even wondered why Bello accepted the governorship candidacy offer of the APC, adding: “Bello should resign immediately. We are not only going to start civil mass action, but we are also going to mobilise Kogi State House of Assembly for his impeachment if the governor fails to resign.”
A statement by Bello’s spokesperson, Kingsley Fanwo, did not deny that his boss registered twice, but indicated it was not illegal. He argued that the governor had to register again in Kogi, because nothing had come out of efforts to get INEC to transfer his voter’s card from Abuja to Kogi.
He acknowledged the picture of his principal being registered in his Lokoja office, which he said had elicited “hysterical overplay,” noting that his boss never claimed to have registered in Kogi State.
He explained further that the matter even came to the fore at the tribunals, confirming that he registered in Abuja and that never voted in Kogi State. “Nothing in the law makes it mandatory for you to vote for yourself before you can win a political position.
“We have had people who won elections from detention in the past. They wouldn’t have voted for themselves from detention.”In a related development, the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Bode Ogunmola, saw the development as a vindication of the party’s earlier stance on Bello’s voter’s registration status.
He stated: “We wish to make it clear that the present APC-led government in Kogi was foisted on the people of the state. It is not untrue that Bello was not legally qualified and had no moral standing to run for election in Kogi State, in the first place, since he has never been a registered voter in the state.
“It was not for nothing that some of his party members were not happy and openly disagreed with the way the national body of the APC imposed his candidature on them. “The state is presently groaning under a leadership that has no place in moral justice.”He said the PDP was taken aback by the revelation that the governor registered twice, saying: “This, to us, smacks of double-standard on the part of the electoral body. The questions INEC needs to ask itself are: Did the officer(s) of the commission that registered Bello for the second time not know that he had claimed to be a registered voter?
“Does it mean that INEC has no record of voters in its data bank, thus allowing double registration?”He said the PDP expects that the outright violation of electoral law would not be swept under the carpet, as the Electoral Act adequately prescribes the appropriate penalty for anyone that violates the law.
“It is, therefore, not enough to cancel the second registration without ensuring that the necessary penalty is meted out. “Bello did not only register twice, but also had the audacity to carry the electoral officers and their equipment to Government House, Lokoja, which is not one of the designated centres for the registration exercise.”