There was palpable fear and confusion in the camp of Deacon Emmanuel when a new entrant to his legal team, Andrew Udom (Esq) cried out to Tribunal Chairman for understanding. Andrew Udom (Esq) appeared utterly confused and flummoxed when he listened but without understanding to Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), Counsel to Ekere grill Deacon Udom’s witness Mbet Essien Akpan – RW3 during cross examination.
RW3 who was PDP polling Agent at unit 007, ward 1 of Nsit Ibom LGA had deposed in his witness statement on oath that election was free, fair and credible in his unit. He informed the Tribunal at examination that election in his unit was conducted in consonance with electoral guidelines. He posited that there was accreditation, voting, sorting, counting of votes and announcement of result at the unit.
During cross examination, RW3 was asked if he voted to which he affirmed positively. Asked if he was accredited before voting, he said yes!
Ojukwu called for exhibit PT190 requesting same to be shown to RW3. Then came the thunder bolt question that left the lying witness broken.
Q. confirm that you were unit polling Agent for PDP
Q. Confirm that your polling unit is 007, ward 1 of Nsit Ibom LGA
A. Correct my Lord.
Q. How many people voted in your unit
A. 338 my Lord.
Q. Who won in your unit as per the result declared
A. My candidate, Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Q. How many votes did he score
A. 205 my Lord.
Q. There is no indication in the voter register that you voted
A. I voted my Lord.
Registrar, show the witness exhibit PT190- voter register for his unit.
Q. Can you identify your name on the voter register
A. Yes, my Lord.
Q. By the box beside your name, have you seen the letters FR and FA written in red biro.
A. I can see it but I don’t know what it means.
Q. But you said you were accredited
A. Yes my Lord, I thump printed on the voter register.
Q. But your phone number is not there..
A. Nobody asked for my phone number and beside I didn’t think it was necessary for me to write my phone number where it was not needed or require.
My Lord, that is all for this witness said Ojukwu (SAN).
It was midway through this interrogation of WR3 that Andrew Udom (Esq) sprang to his feet confessing to the Tribunal that he was confused and had no idea what and where Petitioners counsel was heading.
In his response, Tribunal Chairman told counsel he didn’t have to know what Ojukwu sought to establish. He should reserve his objection till final address.
Through cross examination, Ojukwu established that there was no accreditation in unit 007, ward 1 of Nsit Ibom LGA. The letters FR and FA written in red by the box beside RW3’s name on the voter register are INEC’s abbreviation for; Failure to Read – FR and Failure to Authenticate FA. Where both circumstances apply, it is tantamount to failure of the card reader. In that circumstance, voters could vote if they thump printed beside their names on the voter register and entered their phone numbers. RW3 came under this category but he did not complete the process of manual accreditation by providing his phone number.
By implication, RW3 was not accredited and therefore did not vote. Whatever vote he cast, was a void vote by virtue of inchoate accreditation. This was the scenario in many polling units across the state.
Meanwhile, The Tribunal Adjourned to 02 August, 2019.
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