The Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, on Sunday picked holes with the conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in Kwara State.
Suleiman, who spoke to reporters in Ilorin, the state capital, alleged electoral irregularities in the state, saying it was “an electoral tragedy”.
According to the Peoples Democratic Party leader in the state, the accreditation process was faulty, adding that the card readers did not function in many wards.
The minister added that the Independent National Electoral Commission’s decision to adopt manual methods in accrediting voters after the card readers failed created room for irregularities in the elections.
He alleged that the total votes cast in the three wards at Opobiyi, Ajikobi in Agbaji (Ilorin West Local Government) was greater than the number of collected Permanent Voters Cards in the area.
Former governor and All Progressives Congress leader in the state, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is from the area.
Suleiman alleged that security personnel were withdrawn during the collation and counting of votes in the state to create room for the manipulation of the results in favour of the ruling APC in the state.
“If actually we had got it well in 2011, what happened in my own community, in my state, was more of an electoral tragedy, which is not acceptable. To a large extent, it has significant negative implications for our electoral future – if not addressed.
“I saw a connivance of the security agencies in Kwara State, to be specific, with the opposition party. It does not tally with sense, for instance, where you have about 1,800 potential voters to one policeman without any arms. How will he control the crowd?”
He continued, “Many houses were used as electoral fraud havens by the ruling party in Kwara State to rig the elections. Where I voted, at Opobiyi, the three polling units were in the residence of an APC chief. Going by the declared votes, the vote declared for Mr. President, especially for the opposition, outweighed the PVCs collected. It is a case of electoral tragedy”.
In a swift response, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Salihu Garba, denied withdrawing policemen during counting of votes in the state, saying the security agencies never defaulted in their duties.
He said, “The minister’s allegations against security agencies are unfair. We did not sleep. We were up and doing. Even right now that I am talking with you, we are on patrol, only for somebody to say that because of security lapses, somebody had an advantage over the other. It is very unfair”.
In the same vein, the Kwara APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Sulymain Buhari, said the minister’s allegations were false, adding that he was raising false alarm because he was defeated in his area.
“The allegations are untrue. We did not commit any electoral fraud or irregularity. We challenge the minister to prove his allegations”, Buhari said.
Meanwhile, former Governor Saraki has won re-election to represent Kwara Central in the Senate.
He polled 118,879 votes to defeat his closest rival, Alhaji AbdulRazak AbdulRahman of the PDP, who polled 118,879