By Pam Cham
The Independent National Electoral Commission has removed Prof. Musa Izam, the Collation Officer it assigned to Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Izam, a physics lecturer at the University of Jos, had earlier attempted to abscond without declaring the results of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, but was apprehended by youths in the area, who forced him back to the collation centre.
“We had to remove him because he was drunk and could not perform the assignment,” Mr Osaretin Imahiyereobo, Head, Voter Education, of INEC in Plateau, told NAN in a telephone interview on Sunday in Jos.
He said that INEC had to act fast to avoid delay in the collation exercise.
“We are waiting for him to come to Jos and explain why he behaved the way he did,” the INEC official told NAN.
NAN reports that Izam, who started the collation of the results brought from the local government’s Wards on Sunday, told party agents, INEC officials and observers that he needed a little time to ease himself.
The official, however, disappeared from the centre, and took off to Jos.
According to Mr Michael Abi, PDP chairman in Bokkos Local Government, some youths, who saw Izam leaving the centre, quickly mobilised themselves and chase him.
“The youths chased him and caught up with him at Maikatako near Kuba, about 40 kilometres away from Bokkos.
“When he was brought back to the collation centre, he quickly apologised and promised to continue with his work.
“His attitude is shocking, considering the crucial nature of this assignment. He has refused to work and this has delayed the collation and declaration of the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the local government, ’’ he said.
NAN reports that Mr Jonathan Mawuyau, former Plateau justice commissioner, who was at the centre, apologised to the angry party agents, INEC officials and observers, urging them to be patient with the official.
Mawuyau, an APC stalwart, who agreed that the Professor’s attitude was “shocking and uncalled for’’, urged the anxious election officials to forgive Izam.
But Izam, in an interview with NAN, denied ever absconding.
“I only went to visit a friend in town but the people misconstrued the whole thing.
“I only stepped out to go and see a friend along with the Special Adviser to Governor Simon Lalong on Security matters, but the people thought I had left my duty post, which is not true.
“I did apologise to them since they were not happy with the action I took, but INEC felt otherwise,” Izam stated.
Also speaking on the issue, Mr Aliyu Musa, Electoral Officer in Bokkos, who has taken over Izam’s assignment, described the Professor’s action as “shocking and unfortunate”.
“I have been ordered to take over the collation. But, even before he finally showed up today, we were doing his work and when he came, instead of doing the work, he was just fighting everybody around.
“Anyway, there is no cause for alarm as I am equal to the task. By God’s grace, we shall conclude collation this evening and announce the results,” Musa said.