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Confusion as PDP, Okowa’s witnesses admit irregularities at Tribunal

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okowaThe tribunal sitting in Asaba, on Monday 14th September, admitted documents “R1” filed by the first respondent (Okowa) in response to the petitioners (Emerhor/APC). 

The first witness for OKOWA/PDP was a farmer/business man named Nkechukwu Akozor a native of Ndokwa LGA, and PDP collation agent in Aboh. 

Under cross examination by counsel to EMERHOR/APC, he disclosed that the card reader was used to authenticate his PVC and also for accreditation purpose, and further went on to state that the INEC assistant presiding officer had made it mandatory for the use of the card reader. 

The witness also indicated that the card reader worked properly without recording any hitch and there was no reason for the “incident form” or manual accreditation. 

He then concluded by stating that collation of results ended on the 12th of April 2015, thereby contradicting INEC who declared the results a day earlier on the 11th of April 2015. 

With the questions asked by EMERHOR/APC and the replies from OKOWA/PDP, it is pertinent to note that the witness agreed with EMERHOR/APC that the card reader was successful with its data the basis for a credible election.

The second witness for OKOWA/PD was Mr Festus Ovie Agas, the current Secretary to State Government. 

Although he arrived with much confidence, he eventually agreed with counsel to the petitioner that Okowa’s purported number of votes far exceeded the total number of accredited voters in the state.  

The SSG tendered LGA results as his evidence and these were admitted by the tribunal as exhibit RW, however, the result of Ukwuani LGA was overruled for improper certification. 

The results were however labelled R2 – R25 for easy identification. 

The SSG admitted that the card reader was used at his polling unit and he was accredited by a card reader before he voted. 

The SSG further explained to his understanding that the card reader was used to authenticate and identify valid PVCs.

Under cross examination, he also stated that the card reader stopped working and alleged that there was a phony phone call to the Assistant presiding officer from an unknown entity instructing the reversion to manual accreditation. 

EMERHOR/APC’s counsel punctured his statement by showing him the press statement by INEC stating the necessity and compulsory use of the card reader also stating that when a card reader fails to function, the election should be postponed till the next day so a card reader can be provided.

The SSG was shown exhibit P26 which contains the purported inflated result of OKOWA/PDP as 724,680 and was shown exhibit 1 and 1A which is the certified copy of the accredited number of voters as 709,700 initially, then as 715,392 when the INEC server had been fully updated. 

This revealed the discrepancies in the number of OKOWA/PDP’s voters and the number of INEC certified accredited voters. The tribunal was made to understand that one of the major functions of the card reader is to fish out fake PVCs and render them invalid for voting. 

There was comedy at the tribunal when the SSG replayed the incident of the famous Returning Officer of the rivers election; the SSG, when confronted with the INEC certified accredited number of voters, resorted to demanding for more light insisting he suddenly couldn’t read the paragraph in exhibit 1 and 1A, however it was read aloud for everyone by the tribunal.

The tribunal continues today.

Rinsola Abiola

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