By Shola Akingboye:
There is a popular expression that “politics is a dirty game,” this probably best describe the unending accusations and denials on allegation of double registration against Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise. It would be recalled that the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has since sacked three officials of the commission over the issues, Governor Bello walks tall under the immunity clause.
Although, he denied the allegation forthrightly through his spokesperson saying he was not even in the country on May 23, 2017, the date it was alleged he did the second registration, after an earlier one in 2011 in Abuja. One of the amazing part of the story to most Nigerians, is that, in spite of such denial by the Governor, INEC did not come out openly with any concrete evidence to indict the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor, but recently announced the sack of its workers over the matter.
This, many believes casts doubt on the genuineness of the INEC investigations. Expectedly, not few Nigerians have commended the electoral body for the action taken against its staff, rather their lamentations that INEC’s stand on the matter amounts to playing on Nigerians intelligence. There indications that, the Independent National Electoral Commission may end up being at the receiving end of the scandal, more importantly as the Governor has turned the heat on the electoral body by pointing to an error on the part of the commission.
It would be recalled, that the commission, which accused the Governor of double registration, with a promise to have him prosecuted after dropping the shield of immunity, claimed that the second registration took place May 23rd, a day the Governor was on record to have traveled outside Nigeria. After a long personal silence since the matter broke out, the Kogi State Governor recently decided to pick up his gauntlet as he eventually appeared on a live TV broadcast (Focus Nigeria) to clear air on the matter, which was monitored by our correspondent.
He accused his political opponents, who are already calling for his impeachment, as being behind his ordeal. Equipped with catalogue of evidence as proofs of his absence from the country on the said date, Governor Bello vehement said the INEC must come clean on whoever is using the Commission to tarnish his hard image, denying any form of dual registration whatsoever.
Among such evidence were travel documents, including his stamped International Passport, VISA and other passport traceable to the Nigerian Embassy, in London enroute United Arab Emirate capital, Dubai, until he rushed back to Nigeria for the commemoration of Democracy Day. According to him ‘‘I never registered twice, I registered only once, which was in 2011, in Abuja.’’ Vowing to fight further if the INEC failed to come clean before Nigerians, the Governor presented the photoshop to exonerate him from the indictment.
However, the Governor’s defence, which is seen by many as an afterthought to latch on to the obvious error of date by INEC, may not extricate him from the accusation of double registration, an offence punishable under Nigeria electoral laws. Analysts believes that, an average Nigerian politician is capable of masterminding anything, even while absent from the country. However, pundits queried the initial registration of the sitting Governor of Kogi State in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and the possibility of the second registration by Yahaya Bello should not be waved aside. Pointing out that the Governor may have re-registered in his home state as a face-saving measure without weighing the implication. Not a few are at ease that INEC has penalized it workers over the allegation while Governor Bello remains untouched.