INEC Insists Rivers Guber Poll Was Free, Fair And Credible | Independent Newspapers Limited
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INEC Insists Rivers Guber Poll Was Free, Fair And Credible

Posted: Sep 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

 INEC Insists Rivers Guber Poll Was Free, Fair And Credible
By Daniel Abia
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  on  Monday  continued with its  defense  of  the Rivers  State  Governorship election at the Election Petition Tribunal,  with  further proofs that  the  election  was peaceful,  credible  and conducted  in line with  the  Electoral Act. 
Presenting its  case before the  Justice  Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal sitting  in  Abuja, INEC maintained  that relevant  electoral  procedures  were followed before  the  Commission  arrived at the lawful declaration  of  Governor  Wike  as the  winner  of  the  election  in view  of the valid votes garnered by him on April  11, 2015.
The commission also stressed that the best practices were observed in the conduct of  the  Rivers  State  Governorship Election which ;led to the victory of chief Nyesom Wike. 
At the resumed sitting,  INEC presented  seven witnesses who are presiding officers  in polling  units  spread across  four local  government  areas.  The witnesses conducted elections in  Bonny,  Tai,  Oyigbo and Akuku  Toru  Local Government Areas. They were serving corps members at the time the election  was conducted. 
The defence  witnesses  were led in evidence  by  the  counsel  to  INEC,  Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN ).
In her testimony, Ogechi  Anyanwu, a corps member who served as Presiding  Officer  Ward  8 Unit 8 of Tai Local  Government  Area confirmed  that  elections  were free and fair, noting that nobody snatched election  materials  as alleged  by Rivers State  APC. 
The youth Corp member noted  that there was no case of violence during  the  governorship  election and that as presiding officer  she never participated  in  electoral fraud. 
She maintained  that in line with  training  received before  the  election she adopted manual accreditation  after the  card readers malfunctioned. 
Another  defence  witness, Jerry  Nyikwagh  who served  as Presiding  Officer  for Ward 7, Unit 4 in Tai LGA explained  that  he reverted to manual accreditation  after the failure  of  the  card readers,  but first got permission  from his supervisor. 
He explained  that  the accreditation  and voting  process were in line with the training  they received  and the Electoral  Act. 
Adeyemi  Saheed  who served as Presiding  Officer at Alabrabra Polling  Unit  in Akuku  Toru  LGA described  the  election  as peaceful, credible and  free and fair  with  all the  party  agents participating.
He noted  that  contrary  to  the  Rivers State APC  allegation,  the governorship  election  did not witness  any case of ballot box snatching, election  malpractices  or fraud.
Mr Fidelis  Zeribe who served as Presiding  Officer  at Ward 7, Unit 5 of Bonny LGA said nobody  manipulated  the  election,  stressing  that  accreditation  and  voting  took place and a return  was made.
The  Presiding  Officer  for Ward 1 Unit 1 in Oyigbo Local  Government  Area,  Ifem Charles  Chidozie,  a former  youth corps member, said he didn’t  participate  in electoral  fraud,  neither did he see soldiers  partake  in violent  acts or electoral malpractices. 
Sofiri  Jumbo, a former youth corps member  who served as the presiding  officer for Ward 4 unit 1 in Bonny LGA  testified  that  the  election  in his area of coverage was in line with  the  Electoral  Act  and election  guidelines. 
Another Defence  witness  and Presiding Officer  Ward 1 Unit 1 in Oyigbo  LGA,  Onyejen  Martins maintained  that the governorship  election  in his area of  coverage  was  peaceful,  free, fair and  credible. 
He denied the  allegation  by  the  Rivers  APC that INEC  officials  colluded  with  the  PDP  and  the Army to commit  election malpractices,  stating  that  he did not even see a soldier in his polling  station. 
Under cross  examination  by Chief  Akin  Olujimi, SAN,  counsel  to  Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate,  all the  defence  witnesses  insisted that voting successfully  took place on the  day of the  governorship  election  and that card readers  and  manual  accreditation  were  used. 
They maintained  that the official  training  they received mandated them to revert to manual  accreditation  in the event that  the  card readers failed.  All seven  witnesses  stressed that the presiding  officers  had no powers to postpone  election  when the election  process  had commenced with voters lined up for accreditation. 
In the  meantime,  Justice  Suleiman Ambrosa adjourned  further  hearing  on the matter to September  28, 2015 for the continuation  of  INEC’S  defence. 
So far, INEC  has called  8 defence  witnesses  from five local  government  areas spread across  the  three senatorial  districts of Rivers State.