Sokoto Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Nura Ali was removed on Monday because he was “acting like a Sole Administrator” which broke down structures that led to inconclusive National Assembly (NASS) elections in the state on February 25.
Besides, said a source in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) alleged staff under Ali colluded with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the presidential election in Sokoto.
Ali’s removal came 48 hours after INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu vowed to crack down on negligent staff at a meeting with RECs.
Yakubu warned at the meeting last Saturday some of them would not be in charge of the governorship and state Assembly elections on March 11 because of misconduct.
“As we approach the governorship and state assembly elections, we must work harder to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election. Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians.
“All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including collation and returning officers (ROs), must not be involved in forthcoming elections,” Yakubu said.
A letter INEC Secretary Rose Oriaran-Anthony wrote on March 6 directed INEC Administrative Secretary Hauwa’u Kangiwa to take full charge of INEC office in Sokoto.
“This is to inform you of the commission’s decision for you (Dr Nura Ali), Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sokoto State, to stay away from the commission’s office in Sokoto State immediately until furthermore notice.
“The administrative secretary is directed to take full charge of INEC, Sokoto State office with immediate effect,” the letter said.
Another INEC letter directed Kangiwa to liaise with INEC Supervisory National Commissioner Muhammad Sani Kala for further clarification.
“Please note that a National Commissioner (Major Gen. A. B. Alkali) and four (4) senior officials (names attached) are deployed to your State to assist you in the preparations and conduct of the forthcoming Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Election,” the letter read.
Election Day hitches in Sokoto
Sources told Daily Trust Ali was removed because of of the misconduct of INEC officials under him during the election of February 25.
The election in Sokoto was marred by hitches. The PDP carried the state in the presidential ballot, and the NASS elections were declared inconclusive, including those of the three senatorial districts.
The APC has alleged the PDP connived with INEC staff to rig the presidential election in Sokoto.
“You know a lot of hitches were recorded during the last elections; late arrival of materials at polling units and improper conduct of poorly trained ad hoc staff,” a source disclosed.
“And you know Sokoto is a very difficult state when it comes to the conduct of elections. The state requires a highly experienced and capable hand to manage its elections.
“The controversy during the last election is the major reason the commissioner was asked to step down while a highly experienced team was deployed to manage the governorship and other elections in the state.”
But a senior INEC official, who pleaded not to be named because he is not authorised to publicly comment on the matter, insisted Ali was given enough support.
“It was authoritatively learnt that the Sokoto REC was acting like a sole administrator and this led to the breakdown of administrative structure of INEC in the state,” the source explained.
“For instance, there was no result of National Assembly elections in Sokoto State, as the commission staff in the state refused to work with him, due to his high-handedness.
“There are other reasons that the commission does not have an option than to ask the Administrative Secretary of the commission in the state, Hauwa Aliyu Kangiwa, to take full charge with immediate effect so the coming governorship and state assembly elections would be successful.”