From Paul Orude, Bauchi
There was tension during Saturday’s bye-election in Dass Constituency in Bauchi State as officials of the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detained a former Head of Service in the State, and top People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, Mr Abdon Dalla Gin, for over five hours.
The problem started when DSS and EFCC officials stopped Gin, the Kaigama of Dass, as he was leaving his Social Welfare Bon Dot polling unit shortly after casting his vote at about 9:30 am and took him to the police station.
Gin was initially approached by some youth who had followed him to his car to greet him after granting a short interview to journalists on his impression of the election so far.
The former Head of Service, who is currently a Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters, was asked a few questions by the EFCC officials who seized his identity card and searched his car. They found an undisclosed amount of money inside his car boot and took him to the station.
He was taken to the police division in Dass before he was granted bail at about 2:15 pm. At the station, the DSS officials took out bundles of N500 naira notes and asked the former HOS to place them on his palms. He was directed to move towards the counter inside and asked to drop the money on the counter and place his hand on it.
‘Place your hands on your money,’ one of the officials that brought him to the police station in Dass said, taking photos of Gin using his mobile handset while some followed suit. When some journalists inquired whether it was legal to take pictures of the former HOS and what charges were levelled against him, one of them said it is a routine and not meant for the public.
Speaking with journalists on the issue Barrister Multar Abubakar, a top PDP lawyer said Gin was arrested on suspicion of having money in the boot of the car on the day of the election.
‘Vote buying is a situation where one person gives money to another. But this is a situation where they stopped him when he was driving his car and they saw money in his boot. He was a former Head of Service of Bauchi State. He is a farmer, high profile personality in the State and is capable of having such money. The money is just around N500,000. The matter is still being investigated. On the leaked picture, the operatives of the EFCC are angry that the picture leaked because they did not know how the picture was taken. It was in the process of removing the money from the boot that the picture was snapped. The operatives confirm that he was not sharing money to anyone. He has been granted bail and the case is under investigation so we should not.’
Police Commissioner Tanko Lawal Jimeta said he received a report that the top government official was brought to the police station in Dass, saying that the Electoral law gives power to not just security officials but also citizens to prevent the occurrence of electoral crimes during voting.
Jimeta emphasised that suspicious of vote-buying must be proved, meaning someone must have witnessed money being given to another at a polling unit to constitute vote-buying. The Commissioner said any such act that occurs outside a polling unit might not amount to vote-buying.
Jimeta said the issue is being investigated.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Suleiman, the Chairman of Dass Local Government Area, who was at the police station, expressed shock at the conduct of the DSS and EFCC officials, saying the money inside the boot of the car driven by Gin was for the allowances of party agents.
He was surprised that a high profile citizen like Gin who is currently Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters would be detained without proof of perpetuating in illegal activity.
Meanwhile, our correspondent who monitored the bye-election in Dass observed that the exercise was smooth. There was a high turnout of voters, including women.