The All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate in Delta State in the April 11 poll, Olorogun Oghenetega Emerhor, have alleged that staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state have been engaged to testify against the “mandatory use of card reader” in the 2015 general elections.
In a petition to INEC by its counsel, Messrs S. M. Egbune & Co, APC and Emerhor said they had uncovered moves by “INEC staff to testify under oath in denial of the mandatory status of the use of card readers in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state”.
The election, won by the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the election, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, is currently being challenged at the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
In the petition, the APC and Emerhor alleged that counsel for INEC at the tribunal, Messrs D. D. Dodo, planned to use “Messrs Enabor Felix, Livy Unigwe, and Donatus Anumba in their capacity as staff of INEC to depose to witness statements on oath” to contradict INEC position on the mandatory use of card readers for the said election.
The petitioners explained that the INEC staff had contradicted the commission’s position on the mandatory use of card readers in their witness statements.
Alleging that the commission’s employees had “willfully and wrongly misstated” INEC’s position on the use of card readers in their planned witness statement, APC and Emerhor quoted the INEC employees to have stated, “Denies that 3rd respondent (INEC) prescribed the mandatory use of electronic card readers for the accreditation of voters for the election held on April 11, in each of the polling units in each Local Government Area of Delta State.
“That the Electoral Act is a comprehensive Act, which deals with the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides for the only mode of accreditation of voters, which is solely through the register of voters. Accreditation at an election is regulated by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“That the introduction of Card Reader Machine is a mere instruction at the election to facilitate the accreditation process and does not in any way equate with or obliterate the express provisions of the Electoral Act, which are extant for all purposes”.
APC and Emerhor further alleged that the aforementioned INEC employees had said in their statement that the commission had envisaged that the card reader could fail, which would necessitate the use of manual accreditation.
They quoted the INEC staff as adding, “That from inception, it was contemplated that upon failure of the Card Reader Machine, other contingencies will be resorted to in order to ensure that election is duly conducted and that legitimate voters are not disenfranchised.
“That the ultimate mechanism was a resort to the manual accreditation as provided for in the Electoral Act. That with the challenges presented by the Card Reader Machines, the process of accreditation proceeded as was expressly provided for in the Electoral Act. There were no acts of non-compliance which materially affected the result of the election”.
APC and Emerhor, in the petition, argued that the said INEC officials “are misrepresenting INEC and are not acting on INEC’s directives but are out to embarrass the commission and put its well-earned reputation as a fair electoral umpire at risk”.
They, therefore, called on the Acting Chairman of INEC, Mrs Amina Zakari, to use her good offices to look into their complaint against the three INEC employees involved at the tribunal case with a view to “maintaining and defending the official position of the commission without let or favour to any of the parties to the election petition”.