By Ismaila Chafe
Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has dismissed the claim by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he won the presidential election in Kaduna state.
President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the Feb. 23 presidential election by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) having polled 15,191,847 votes, winning in 19 states, to defeat 72 other candidates, including Atiku Abubakar, who scored 11,255,978 votes.
Buhari won in 19 states including Kaduna, Kogi, Niger and Gombe as against Atiku, who won in 17 states and the FCT to occupy the second position.
Abubakar, however, claimed he won the election in Kogi, Kaduna, Gombe and Niger states where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared were won by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abubakar stated this in his “state to state computation” contained in his electoral petition filed at the Election Tribunal in Abuja.
El-Rufa’i told State House Correspondents that the PDP presidential candidate lost the election in Kaduna state, adding that “he will always lose Kaduna, he will lose Kaduna 10 more times because he has never won Kaduna in any presidential elections’’.
He said: “Let me say this without any fear of contradiction; since President Buhari started contesting for the presidency since 2003, he has never lost Kaduna.
“So, PDP has never won elections in Kaduna from 2003, even with a sitting governor in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015; it has never happened.
“I don’t know what will happen that Atiku will win Kaduna in these elections this time.
“He lost Kaduna; he lost very badly, even though about 100,000 votes he claimed to have got were added because elections conducted without card reader in some parts of the state.
“That’s how he even got up to the 400,000 that he got.’’
The governor, who also dismissed Atiku’s claim on the result of the presidential election found in INEC server, maintained that the PDP candidate was free to prove his case at the tribunal.
“`Well, I don’t about INEC server; it must be Atiku’s server.
“We don’t know how they had access to it; they will tell us during the tribunal proceedings what is this server and how they got access to it and how they got their numbers.
“You do not go to court in an election petition by quoting INEC server or any other server. Anyone can create a server, I can go and buy it; it is a piece of equipment and call it INEC server.
“But that does not mean that it amounts to anything. We are guided by the electoral act and the evidence act and other enabling legislation and he has to prove his case.
“But anyone can make claims – we live in the age of fake news and fake claims. Anyone can make claims but you have to prove it,’’ he said.
The governor, who said that he was in the Presidential Villa to inform President Buhari that he was never involved in an accident as was falsely reported, said he also discussed issues relating to his state with the president.
He said: “I came to see Mr President after my re-election as governor because immediately after the election I took a break.
“I came back to report to him that I was not involved in an accident, I’m alive, I am not in coma and also to discuss other issues relating to my state.’’
El-Rufa’i advised the citizens to always avoid forwarding stories that had not been verified, saying that he was neither involved in an accident nor went into coma as was being speculated.
He disclosed that security personnel had intensified efforts to trace the originators of the fake story with a view to prosecuting them to serve as deterrent to others.
“My advice to everyone in Nigeria is to avoid forwarding stories that have not been verified. Social media provides platform for disseminating information but it is also a platform for dissemination of lies and hatred.
“We should be very careful that we don’t use this platform to advance the cause of the enemies of this country.
“I was never involved in any accident, I was not near any accident; in fact, at the time I was supposed to be involved in an accident, I was in an aircraft going to another country.
“But somebody sat and concocted this story and we are trying to trace who started it because criminal proceedings can be initiated against the person. Sometimes it is very difficult to know who started it but we are on it.
“My advice is that we should rely on reliable news medium, not just any platform or any blog. Unless we hear something from a very reliable news medium, we should be reluctant to begin sharing it as if it is true,’’ he said.