…. State Govt, INEC Lied
A witness, Dr. Olosunde Williams, testifying for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Saturday, admitted that seven out of the 11 wards in Essien Udim Local Government Area, were cancelled at the Independent National Electoral Commission (!NEC) headquarters in Uyo, the state capital.
Dr. Williams, who said he was the collation officer for the local government, also admitted under cross examination from the counsel to the petitioners, Sunday Ameh (SAN), that he was not forced to sign any result sheet, but the result was first adjusted at INEC office at Essien Udim Local Government Area and when it got to the headquarters at Uyo, he was ordered to cancelled the results of seven wards Senator Godswill Akpabio won.
Senator Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is challenging the declaration of Chris Ekpenyong of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the election for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
Ekpenyong had closed his case last week after calling 14 witnesses while the PDP opened its defence on Saturday.
A lecturer at the University of Uyo, Williams further told the tribunal he was never forced to sign result sheets.
Ameh asked him if he wrote the result where APC scored 61,329 and PDP 9,050 for the local government, Williams said: “The result was written by me”
“From your statement did you say you were forced to make the entry”.
“Yes, I was not forced to make the entry”
Ameh: “Where did you prepare the result?”
“It was prepared at Essien Udim LG INEC office, not at the collation centre”
Ameh: “Look at the adjustment, where did you do that?”
“I did the adjustment outside Essien Udim local government collation centre”, Williams replied.
When shown total numbers of accredited voters of 19,455 as captured by smart card reader in exhibit R254(A), and that over 9,000 accredited voters that were not reflected in preparing the result in exhibit P534: Dr. Williams answered: “The cancellation was done in INEC headquarters in Uyo.”
“Who asked you to cancel the seven wards?”, he was asked. “The commission asked me to cancel.”
“Who is the head of the commission in Akwa Ibom?”, he was probed further
Williams said Mike Igini is the head of the commission in the state.
According to him, when he got to the headquarters of INEC in Uyo as the collation officer for the local government, he was instructed by the Resident Electoral Commission, Igini to cancel out areas where Akpabio had won, allegedly because of irregularities.
Again, the collation officer said he never mentioned in his report that APC thugs forced him to sign fake result in favour of Akpabio.
“My lords, I did not say whether it was PDP or APC thugs who forced me to sign result sheets. I did not accuse any party or say any party forced me to sign results”, he said.
He said at the collation centre party agents where present when he signed the result while the police and army personnel kept guard.
This is against both the PDP and INEC’s insistence that the election was marred with violence and the collation officer was forced to sign the result in favour of Akpabio by APC thugs.
Another witness, Abraham Adebitimi, testifying for the PDP told the panel that the Akwa Ibom State government lied when it said the February 23 election in the state was free and credible.
Adebitimi, a member of National Youths Service Corps, who said he served as polling officer for INEC during the election at Ikpe Abang ward, said under cross examination by the petitioners’ counsel, that the state government and INEC lied in their reports that the election was free and fair.
Adebitimi had earlier told the court, lead in evidence by the PDP counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN), that he served at unit 2, Ikpe Abang ward and the election was marred with violence, intimidation, molestation and thumb printing of ballot papers by thugs suspected to be loyal to the APC. And because of that there was no election or accreditation at the unit after thugs allegedly carted away election materials and kidnapped INEC ad-hoc staff p, including election materials.
When shown an advertorial by the state government, signed by the secretary to the government, thanking the people of the state for free election, he said it was not true.
“The state government lied by saying the election was peaceful, free and credible”
Ameh asked again, “between you and state government, who is lying?”
Hee replied “the state government is lying”
When a portion of INEC defence statement which attested to the fact that the election was peaceful in the state, was read to him, he replied that INEC also lied.
“You mean your employer lied?”, he answered in the affirmative: “Yes, INEC lied, the election was not peaceful.”
Also Endurance Nosakhare, another corper, said he served at unit 2, Ekpenyong ward 1, and that he was forced to enter result in favour of Akpabio and was also forced to write his name on the sheet to authenticate them by thugs who abducted them to an unknown place.
Ameh then asked him: “When you were forced to write your name, you wrote three of your names but in a relaxed atmosphere and not under any pressure when you wrote the report you wrote only two of your names”. He said it was true.
So goes for the fourth witness for the day, Halleluya Oni, also a corper during the election but has passed out. She also said she was kidnapped and made to enter false result under duress.
Under pressure, she wrote Oni Hellaluya Grace but in a relaxed mood she wrote Oni Halleluya only.
She said she never took any oath of neutrality or sworn to an oath before, when asked she has ever taken oath.
Asked whether she was accompanied by thugs to INEC to submit the results she allegedly recorded under duress, she said “yes”, the thugs followed her into INEC office in Uyo.
Asked if there was no police or army personnel at INEC office in Uyo to protect her and others, she said she didn’t know the difference between the security and thugs “because everybody was shooting I didn’t know who is who.”
The tribunal has adjourned further hearing to Tuesday, July 24.