Mr Salihu Adamu Musa, the Independent National Electoral Commissoner (INEC) Electoral Officer in Bokkos Local Government of Plateau, on Monday apologised over the “shameful” behaviour of the Returning Officer deployed to the area.
Musa was responding to a question raised by APC Collation Officer in Pankshin, Mr Emmanuel Bok, who sought to know why he (Musa), was declaring the results of elections for Bokkos, instead of the Returning Officer, as stipulated by law.
Musa, in his explanation, told the party agents, observers and INEC officials that the Returning Officer, a university lecturer, was drunk on Sunday and was sacked when he could not perform his duty.
“The Returning Officer’s attitude was appalling; he was drunk and couldn’t do anything at all.
“I took over the job based on instructions from the INEC headquarters in Jos,” Musa explained.
Musa apologised to the election officials on behalf of the electoral body, and promised that the situation would not repeat itself.
Bok, who thanked Musa for the explanation, said that he had intended to reject the result because they were not presented by the officer designated to do so.
“If not for the explanation you gave to us, I would not have accepted the results until we see the Returning Officer.
“But, if that was what happened, then it is very unfortunate and bad for us in our journey toward deepening out democracy,” he said.
In his reaction, Mr Mason Mahli, PDP Collation Officer in the local government, appealed to INEC to always ensure that only reputable people were recruited to assist it in such crucial assignments.
“INEC must always look for credible persons for serious national assignments like this. Electoral duties are sacred assignments that must be handled seriously and with utter commitment,” he stated.
Mr Jonathan Mawuyau, another APC Collation Officer and former justice commissioner in Plateau, who also reacted to the removal of the Returning Officer, regretted the “very bitter experience” elections officials had with the sacked official.
“The officer came to the collation centre drunk. On Sunday, we waited for his arrival up to 2.00 p.m., but when he later arrived and took his seat, he started dozing off before the very eyes of everybody in the hall.
“Shortly after, he woke up and excused us to go ease himself, but the next thing we heard was that he had driven away. He was later accosted and brought back.
“In fact, I had to apologise on his behalf. The official was so drunk that he could not do the Job,” Mawuyau explained.
Mrs. Joan Arabs, INEC official from the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, in her response, assured the party agents, journalists and observers, who had gathered at the senatorial collation centre in Pankshin, that the mistake would not be repeated.
“We have noted this mistake and want to assure you that we will correct it,” she said.