*Reveals why some agents refuse to sign result sheets*
A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Dominic Okenna has told the Akwa Ibom State
Governorship Elections Petitions tribunal in Abuja that there was no official circular that barred the use of manual accreditation by electoral officers during the last governorship elections in the state.
Dominic Okenna, who said he served as the Electoral officer for Onna Local Government Area, said that INEC had a procedure which involves sending information by circulars from Abuja through the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, who in turn subsequently passes the circular to all concerned official.
Okenna dismissed the alleged directive that barred the use of manual accreditation in the April 11, 2015 elections, saying “we never received the press statement purportedly sent from INEC Abuja on the use of card readers,” adding that the statement was merely a press statement, and not an official circular.
The INEC official, who was appearing before the Justice Sadiq Umar-Chaired three man panel, faulted an earlier testimony by one of the petitioner’s witnesses Bishop Samuel Akpan who claimed election never took place in the area.
He said he was responsible for distribution of materials and contrary to the testimony of Bishop Samuel Akpan and Patrick Ekpotu, the materials were distributed in the presence of all parties.
The witness who works as Head of Logistics at INEC intimated the tribunal that Electoral officers bring results to the head office of INEC accompanied by the Local Government Collation officers and the results are presented in full view of everyone present.
He also said that the fact that the results were not signed by some agents, by INEC regulations, does not invalidate the process and the result and does not stop INEC from going ahead to announce results.
He explained that it is always the trend by most agents to refuse signing the documents, once their party had lost in the poll.
During cross examination, he admits that in line with his responsibility, he visited almost all the 131 polling units in Onna and also witnessed the collation of results at the Local Government collation center.
The INEC official who said he has been in the services of the electoral umpire for over 20 years revealed some challenges posed by the card reader to include slow capturing of voters’ biometrics and the short lifespan of batteries which ran out rather too quickly in the course of usage despite being fully energized the previous day.
Okenna also said that there were instances the card readers didn’t work at all and that he mandated two trained staff to handle trouble shooting situations.
Upon being shown Form EC8B for Awa Ward 3 marked as Exhibit ZZ3 which showed blank spaces, he testified that elections did not take place in those areas and that collation ended about 4am on April 12.