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Ivotesng can exclusively reveal that the political rift between Kano state governor, Umar Ganduje and his predecessor, and enstranged godfather, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is behind the now famous Kano underage voting saga which is also threatening the integrity of the 2019 general elections.
Though many Nigerians are aware of the infighting between the duo, but Ivotesng can report that beyond the pictures of underage voters which emerged after the Kano local government elections lies one of the biggest intrigues, manipulation and blackmail which now threatens the 2019 election and the future of the nation’s democracy.
Our investigations reveal that while the Ganduje camp circumvented due process and intimidated opponents out of the race to get ‘100 percent votes’ at the council elections, the Kwankwaso camp made sure it did all it could to further discredit an already flawed process. Unfortunately, the infighting between both men in Nigeria’s most populated state is now casting doubts on the integrity of the 2019 elections.
Political Rift Between Kwankwaso and Ganduje:
That there is no love lost between the two men is no hidden secret, but the February 10th local government election in the state, where the Kwankwaso camp feared the governor wanted to manipulate to aid his effort of taking control of the party structure in the state further magnified the differences in the Kwankwasiyya and Gandujiyya camps.
Some observers had argued that the LG election was an avenue for the two politicians to test their political strength in the polls, hence, would do everything possible to win the popularity war.
Ivotesng investigations revealed that trouble started when the Kano state governor decided to exclude supporters of the Kwankwaso camp from the election.Though both men belong to the ruling APC, but there were two sets of APC candidates for the Kano local government election. There was the APC Kwankwasiyya and APC Gandujiyya candidates.
The Kwankwasiyya-led faction of the APC had sued the KANSIEC and the Kano State Government over the rejection of the list of its candidates.But the governor waved them aside and in one occasion even mocked the Kwankwaso camp for hiring only “one lawyer that stammers” in his bid to stop the conduct of the LG polls.
Ganduje reportedly told candidates for the local government election, about 48 hours to the polls, “Do you see them as our friends? And now they want us to reconcile. Why should we reconcile? On what basis?”
Underage Photos Emerges:
However, shortly after the election, photos of underage voters started emerging. The outburst that greeted some of the photos were so massive that the opposition PDP started expressing concerns over the 2019 General Elections.
However, the INEC, Kano state government and KANSIEC all denied any involvement in the underage voting scam. In one instance, Ganduje described it as a “propaganda” while in another, KANSIEC’s chairman, Professor Garba Ibrahim Sheka, described it as “simply a set up”.
Were the photos and videos a setup?
Ivotesng investigation reveals that while there might truly be existence of underage voters in Kano and in other states of the federation, the photos of underage voters released after the Kano LG polls were deliberately released just to create an impression that the elections were not only illegal but frought with irregularities. Some sources confided in our reporter that those who released the videos are well known.
A source who claimed anonymity said, “If you recall, unlike in other states, the videos and photos supposedly from Kano were not sourced or captured by journalists or observers. It was just released by politicians. No media house can vow it has that recording of underage voting.”
Recall that prior to the LG polls, KANSIEC told the world that it would not use the modern technology brought by INEC in the conduct of the elections.
Our investigation, confirmed by reports from observers who monitored the polls reveals that KANSIEC did not use card readers throughout the conduct of that election.
But in the video clip posted by those complaining that kids voted in the 2018 LG polls held in Kano State, it is easy to notice that they were using card readers.
So, from where did the trending videos and pictures emanate?
A critical look at some of the photos trending online as photos from the Kano LG polls would expose some falacies.
In one of the photos trending on social media, Ivotes can report authoritatively that the photo was taken in Taraba state during the 2015 election.
A critical look at the photo will show the use of card reader. As stated earlier, there was no card reader deployed it used at the Kano LG election.
Is INEC Doing Anything To Guarantee Credible 2019 Election?
Although, as always politicians are desperate to manipulate the system to help them win elections, but Ivotesng investigation reveals that the electoral body has put in place modalities to ensure a credible election in 2019.
Sources within the Commission told our reporter that the leadership of INEC had long ago actually started the process of cleaning up the voters register. This was to ensure that names of those who may have died are removed.The source said, “Prof Mahmood has already declared an emergency.”
Ivotesng gathered that as part of the process to clean up the voters register, INEC had discovered an illegal registration centre in Offa LGA of Kwara State. The impostor is in Police hands. When the electoral officer Offa, a lady, heard the rumour she went to the centre and posed as a registrant and immediately reported the matter to the police who promptly arrested the man. The police is currently investigating the matter.
“All our offices and officials nationwide are on the red alert. I guess you are aware of a similar proactive step taken in Niger State,” the source said.
Recall also that the INEC few weeks ago reported some of its senior officials in Taraba State to security agencies for allegedly registering ineligible voters during the continuous Voters Registration exercise.
How Ganduje arm twisted opponents at the LG poll:
From the onset, it appeared Ganduje was determined to secure 100 percent votes for his faction of APC at the LG poll to make himself the party leader of the state. To achieve this, opponents were intimidated or bribed where necessary.
The KANSIEC, to the chagrin of the other political parties, had announced N250, 000 and N150, 000 as charges for contest forms and tax clearance for chairmanship candidates and N150, 000 and N110, 000 for councillorship candidates.The PDP went to court to challenge the fee and subsequently boycotted the election.But to ensure that the election have a semblance of normalcy, Ivotesng gathered that the Kano state government gave other political parties’ candidates N400,000 each to participate in the election.
One Yakubu Shendam confirmed to Ivotesng that his party was invited to partake in the largesse, but before he got to Kano from Abuja, the money had already been distributed to candidates who were available and presumed to be interested in playing along.”Those who didn’t show up like myself were assumed to be not interested,” he said.
Relationship between Kano LG and INEC
Investigation by Ivotesng shows that INEC voters register wasn’t used at the Kano LG election.
While KNSIEC admited receiving the soft copy of the Voters register from INEC, it also admited the Voters register wasn’t printed for use.
Checks by Ivotesng reporter showed that even at the polling unit where the governor voted, he was not accredited.
Ivotesng reporters have taken a step by step attempt to look at the issues
Pictures Of Underage Voters:
The outrage that greeted the release of the underage voters has forced Nigerians to be worried however , our investigations reveal that many of the photos are archived photos from 2015 election.
The above picture was first published on the Vanguard on 28th March 2015 titled Underage Voters accredited in Taraba but has been released as picture of Kano underage voting.