It is no longer news that INEC failed to open its defence at the ongoing Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, where Obong Nsima Ekere (APC) is challenging INEC over the declaration Udom Emmanuel (PDP) as winner of the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial elections.
INEC’s Lead Counsel, Sylvia Ogemuo (SAN) explained that after due consideration, INEC calling witnesses to testify will serve no useful purpose to the case.
In opening their respective defences, the witness of both Gov. Udom (1st Respondent) and PDP (2nd Respondent) insisted that the Smart Card Reader (SCR) was the only means that was used for accreditation as ticking the voters’ register was only an alternative. Their witnesses during cross-examination would at all times resort to heaping blames regarding the voters register on INEC.
It was discovered that Eket, Ukanafun, Ikono, Oron, Abak, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, Obot Akara among other LGAs had partial or zero accreditations recorded in the voters register, with Ukanafun recording outrageous over voting and alteration of results in favour of the PDP.
A close examination of INEC Guidelines specifically in paragraph 10(a) states that; In accordance with Section 49 (2) of the Electoral Act, a person intending to vote shall be verified to be the same person on the Register of Voters by use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in the manner prescribed in these Regulations and Guidelines.
Section 10 (f) states further the following protocol:
(i) request for the permanent voter’s card;
(ii) check the Register of voters to confirm that the voter’s name, details, and Voter Identification Number (VIN) are as contained in the Register of Voters;
(iii) tick the appropriate box of the horizontal boxes on the right margin beside the voter’s details on the Register, showing the category of the election, if the person’s name is on the Register of Voters;
(iv) tick the appropriate box at the left margin of the Voter’s details in the case of SCR Failure to Read (FR) or Failure to Authenticate (FA).
It is rather unfortunate that INEC AKS headed by Barr. Mike Igini superintended over an election that was a total departure from prescribed guidelines as 70% of voters in the register was not “TICK” thereby imposing, by illogically writing result, a Governor on the people.
The judiciary which is the hope of the common man is expected in the days to come to right these wrongs, for sake of keeping to judicial prudence and on the other hand bring perpetrators of electoral fraud to books.