The Kogi State governor,Yahaya Bello, has been accused of flouting the provisions of the Electoral Act by taking part in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, being carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, after having been registered before.
This is contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that one may only register once. Governor Bello had reportedly registered in Abuja long before becoming Governor.
The development was brought to public attention by a civil society organization, ‘Kogi for Change’, who have threatened to take legal action against the governor.
Besides, pictures of Governor Bello being registered again by INEC officials in his office in Government House, Lokoja, have since emerged on the internet.
It would be recalled that during the post-governorship election hearing at the Kogi governorship election tribunal, the governor’s Chief of Staff, David Onoja, who stood as a witness, told the tribunal that Governor Bello did not register to vote in Kogi, but in Abuja.
However, in the course of the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration, CVR, exercise, Bello registered again, this time in his office, in Lokoja, Kogi State capital.
“We got really concerned when we saw the picture of the Governor (Yahaya Bello) being registered by an INEC official inside his office,” said the chairman of Kogi For Change, Omeiza Yakubu, in a statement.
“Is the Government House a Registration Centre? What happened to the INEC law that forbids double registration since the governor is already registered in Abuja?
“Then the question arises: Is the Government House the Ward or Unit of Alhaji Yahaya Bello?
“Was he not supposed to register in his Unit? Or is INEC going to create a special voting point for him inside his office during the next election?”
The organization described Governor Bello’s actions as “impunity”, saying that “we are not going to take it lightly.”
“As a matter of fact we have decided as a group to take the matter to court. It is a criminal offence to engage in double registration,” the group said.
Replying to the allegation, spokesman to the Kogi State Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, in a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday, suggested that Bello’s double registration was not illegal.
He said that the governor had to register again in Kogi, because he had made several efforts to get the INEC to transfer his voter’s card from Abuja to Kogi, but none has yielded meaningful results.
Fanwo said: “From the first day, the Governor didn’t say he registered in Kogi State. It even came to the fore at the tribunals. He registered in Abuja.
“He never voted in Kogi State. Nothing in the law makes it mandatory for you to vote for yourself before you can win a political position.
“We have had people who won elections from detention in the past. They wouldn’t have voted for themselves from detention.
“The Governor’s efforts to transfer the card from Abuja to Kogi State has not been successful, hence the need to seize this golden opportunity to get registered in Kogi State.”
On why Governor Bello had to register in his office as against the Electoral Act provision that one can only register at the polling unit where one intends to vote, the governor’s spokesman said it was to encourage others to follow his example and take part in the Continuous Voter Registration process.
“There was nothing wrong with registering in the Governor’s Office because it belongs to all Kogites,” Fanwo said. “Government House is People’s House.”
“He (Bello) needed to demonstrate that to the whole world to woo others to go and register.”
Premium Times reports that INEC could not be reached for comment on the recent development.