The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), were alleged to have smuggled unsigned ballot papers to declare the former governor Abubakar Sani Bello as Senator for the Niger North Senatorial District
at the February 25, National Assembly election.
This was disclosed by Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi, the Niger North Senatorial Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shortly after he testified at the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal (EPT) sitting in Minna.
He stated that he petitioned both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar Sani Bello to challenge the conduct of the February 25 National Assembly Election at the Tribunal.
He explained that over 30,000 unsigned and unstamped ballot papers were thump printed by the INEC during the conduct of the election to declare Abubakar Sani Bello as the Senator. This he said was his reason for approaching the tribunal to nullify the election of former governor Sani Bello and to declare him the rightful winner of the election.
He said that in his petition he told the tribunal that he was elected by majority votes in accordance to the Electoral Act therefore the tribunal should nullify the election and return him as the rightful winner of the February 25 National Assembly Elections as Senator of Niger North Senatorial District.
According to him, going by the Electoral Act, he was duly elected by the majority of the voters in his Constituency, adding that he approached the tribunal with all the necessary evidences to nullify the election and return him as the duly elected senator.
"The invalid result sheets which, intentionally, the Independent Electoral Commission and All Progressives Congress and the contestant used and collate as well as compute results to return him as the winner of the election is wrong.
"That was our reason for approaching the court to challenge the decision of INEC. There were almost about 27,000 to 30,000 votes that were put in the result sheet.
" And these results were not signed. The result was not stamped. And any result sheet that does not carry INEC stamp and is not signed is invalid. In this case, INEC connived with the APC and put it. So that is why we approached the court" he told Journalists in an interview after the sitting of the tribunal Wednesday.
Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi said he was optimistic that the tribunal will unanimously declare him as the rightful winner of the February 25 National Assembly Elections.
" My expectations from the tribunal is nothing but victory from the decision of the tribunal going by the electoral act.
" Because in my petition, I have presented all the necessary facts and evidences to the tribunal and by the grace of Allah victory will be on my side,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, the counsels to all the respondents told the panel of the tribunal led by Justice Angela Otaluka, that they will not present any witness as they told the tribunal to give a date for them to respond through a written address to close their case. Justice Angela Otaluka then adjourned to 3rd July 2023.
Niger State Deputy Governor, Comrade Yakubu Garba, had urged Area Pilgrims Welfare Officers (APWOs) and Ulamas (Trainers) to give proper guidance to the state pilgrims for the sake of Allah.
The Deputy Governor stated this at a one-day Pre-Hajj conference for 2023 Hajj workers, held at Guidel Hotel, Minna.
He disclosed that if they do their job of guiding the pilgrims to achieve Hajj mabrub for the sake of Allah and not for worldly reward, other things will fall into shape for them.
Comrade Garba observed that Nigerians like cutting corners instead of obeying the laws and urged the Hajj workers to give proper guidance to the pilgrims and ensure that they obey the laws while in the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia.
He reminded the state pilgrims that they were ambassadors of the state and as such should be disciplined and stay away from any act capable of tarnishing the image of the state while in Holy Land.
He also observed that the calmness he had seen from the participants of the conference, was a sign that the state will achieve not less than 80 percent success in this year's Hajj, promising that the state government will do its best to ensure that the state had a successful Hajj operation.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion who is equally the state Director General Religious Affairs, Mallam Abubakar Rabiu Beji, observed that the training was apt and very important as it will aid in attaining Hajj mabrub.
He also disclosed that it will not be proper for someone to pay close to three million naira and not attain Hajj mabrub at the end of the exercise, urging the participants to pay attention to the training and relate the information back to the intending pilgrims under them.
Similarly, the guest speaker and Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan who was represented by North Central operation officer, Hajiya Halima Mohammed, said hajj was a lifetime dream of every Muslim and as such it was important for the Ulamas and Hajj officials to help the pilgrims attain their lifetime dream.
He described Ulamas as the light of the society and that the society depends on them for guidance, adding that the Hajj for every Muslim were difficult but that with the Ulamas it will be made easy.
The Chairman of NAHCON disclosed that Hajj rites remain the same but the laws changes almost every year, and urged the Hajj officials to dedicate themselves and create time for the pilgrims, saying it is a win-win situation if they help the pilgrims attain Hajj mabrub as both of them will be rewarded.
He equally appreciated the state Governor, Hon. Umaru Mohammed Bago for quickly linking up with the commission as soon as he took up the mantle of leadership and prayed for him to succeed.
The Executive Secretary of Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Board (NSPWB), Sheikh Muhammad Auwal Aliyu said the programme was organized for the APWOs and the Ulamas to enlightened them on how to direct and guide the pilgrims to achieve Hajj mabrub.
He also disclosed that due to the Sudan crisis, flight fares had been increased, but that instead of asking the pilgrims to bring additional money they deduct 100 dollars from the 800 dollar BTA of the pilgrims to take care of the situation, adding that the money was 250 dollars but the National Hajj Commission did whatever they can to make it just a 100 dollar.
There was also goodwill message from the state Amirul Hajj who was the father of the day at the occasion, HRH. Emir of Borgu, Barr. Muhammad Sani Dantoro.