By; ISAAC ODEH, Kaduna
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has waded into controversy surrounding the governorship election in Zamfara State over the non-counting of about 90,000 ballots by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reacting to the development, AYCF President General Yerima Shettima called on the Supreme Court of Nigeria to resolve this issue in favour of former Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle in deciding the appeal before it.
The AYCF insists that the use of the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) introduced by INEC does not carry the same weight as the Electoral Act, and its mandatory use is questionable.
According to Shettima, Section 60 of the Electoral Act clearly states that the presiding officer must record each candidate’s votes in a form prescribed by INEC. Additionally, section 60(5) mandates the presiding officer to transfer results, including total accredited voters and ballot results in a manner prescribed by INEC.
However, AYCF argued that BVAS does not hold the same legal weight as the Electoral Act itself.Shettima further explained that while BVAS was introduced by INEC to enhance electoral credibility, it is not explicitly mandated by the Electoral Act.
“Therefore, its use cannot be made mandatory without proper legal backing. The appeal to Nigeria’s Supreme Court is based on this argument that BVAS should not supersede provisions of the Electoral Act – which governs elections in Nigeria.
“AYCF believes that it is crucial for Nigeria’s highest judicial authority to address this appeal and provide a resolution that upholds democratic principles such as fairness, justice, and rule of law.
“Not counting 90,000 ballots raises concerns about electoral integrity and disenfranchisement of many voters. By resolving this appeal, Nigeria’s Supreme Court can send a strong message that it is committed to ensuring free and fair elections while restoring public confidence in the electoral process,” the group said.
Finally, AYCF urged Nigeria’s Supreme Court to intervene and resolve Zamfara State’s election controversy following INEC’s non-counting of approximately 90,000 ballots in favor of former Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle.
They argued that BVAS does not carry equal weight with provisions stipulated by Nigeria’s Electoral Act governing elections in Nigeria. Resolving this matter will uphold democratic principles such as fairness, justice and rule of law while restoring public confidence in Nigeria’s electoral process.