Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State on Friday triggered a fresh controversy about his status as a registered voter when he obtained a Temporary Voter Card (TVC) at his Okene Ward.
Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the Director-General, Media and Publicity to the Governor, confirmed this in a statement he issued and circulated among media houses in Lokoja. Fanwo said that the issuance of the TVC to Bello was sequel to a form he filled, seeking the transfer of his Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to Okene.
“The governor had been on the issue of the transfer for long. He is excited it has finally been done by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Yes, his card has been transferred to his polling unit at Okene. The governor is a law-abiding leader who will continue to follow due process,” Fanwo said in the statement.
The issue of Bello as a registered voter before the 2015 general elections has been a subject of public interest and currently in court for decision. It would be recalled that Bello had registered afresh in Lokoja, Kogi State, on May 23, 2017, but INEC swiftly described the governor’s action as illegal and unconstitutional.
INEC alleged that Bello was involved in double registration, claiming that the governor had earlier registered at Wuse, Zone II, on Jan. 30, 2011. For their involvement in the governor’s alleged illegal registration in 2017, a senior official of INEC was retired compulsorily from service while two other personnel were summarily dismissed.
Attempts to get the State INEC office to comment on the governor’s latest action proved abortive as many calls to the mobile phone of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof James Akpa, did not connect. However, The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr Ahmed Biambo, when contacted, promised to call back but failed to do so.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged INEC to explain the mystery surrounding the collection of a TVC by Bello. Mr Dickson Achadu, the PDP Director of Research and Documentation in the state, in a statement, insisted that the governor was culpable having registered twice in Abuja in 2011 and in Lokoja in 2017.
“INEC must come clear with what is happening and the circumstances surrounding the governor’s double registration, most especially that the governor has been dragged to court, having allegedly registered twice as even being alleged by INEC.
“INEC must reassure citizens of its readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible poll in 2019 as the governor’s action is making it lose public confidence. It is unimaginable that having confessed to not being able to transfer his permanent voter card before 2015 and the governor’s second registration held in Kogi Government House, Lokoja, INEC can still participate in the drama that took place at INEC office in Okene today,” the statement said.