Witnesses, who acted as agents to the All Progressives Congress Senator Godswill Akpabio at the senatorial election on February 23, 2019, election, Friday, expressed shock that the result sheets they signed during the election were not the one presented in court.
Akpabio is seeking the nullification of the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Dr. Christopher Ekpenyong, as the Senator elect for the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district.
At the resumed hearing at the National Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, capital city of Akwa Ibom State, the witnesses said they were stunned to learn that the result sheets and voters’ register presented by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the tribunal on Friday, were different from the ones they used and signed.
One of the witnesses said: “Wonders they say shall never end”.
The witnesses informed the tribunal that INEC surprised them with shocking news of cancellation of the collated results compiled from their Units and Wards and also alleged that INEC has reproduced new voters’ register, which they said were not the ones used on election day.
Seven agents who testified as the petitioner’s witnesses told the three-man tribunal that they were so amazed to hear that collated election results obtained from their units and wards were cancelled by INEC after they were announced at respective polling units and wards.
They added that the petitioner, Senator Akpabio, won convincingly in all the units and wards that results were collated and announced.
According to the ward agent in Okon Ward 8 Essien Udim Local Government Area, he was shocked to hear that the results he signed at his ward collation centre were cancelled by INEC in Uyo, and insisted that he only heard about the cancellation in the court room.
Responding, the lead counsel to the third respondent (INEC), Ifeoluwa Otediran, Esq. said that the reason why INEC cancelled election results in 17 out of 20 pulling units in Okon Ward 8 was because voters resister used for accreditation were not ticked, and that INEC believed that there was no accreditation of voters.
“My Lord, it is not true. There was accreditation and our names were ticked in my Ward before we were allowed to cast our votes and the same thing was done in other polling units which our party agents informed me about. There was no cancellation in my presence. I was a Ward collation officer for my party”, the stunned witness told the tribunal.
Testifying on INEC form EC8B1 for code 06 (Odoro Ikot Ward 6) of 05 registration area, a witness told the tribunal that he was suprised to hear for the first time at the tribunal that results in the entire 10 polling units in his Ward were cancelled by INEC in Uyo. He further testified that voters’ register presented to him in the tribunal was far different from the one INEC brought to the area on election day.
“My Lord, these documents tendered here are different from the one INEC gave to us in all the polling units in Ward 8 in Odoro Ikot, Essien Udim Local Government Area on election day.
“It is a surprise that INEC gave us photocopied documents. I am surprise that there were original documents. Our names were ticked on the voters register they gave to us different from this one brought here at the tribunal as evidence by INEC; it is shocking that our names on the box are not ticked”, witness testified.
The same sad scenario was also experienced in Ukana West Ward 10 and Ukana East Ward 9, according to the agents.
They both discovered at the tribunal that all collated results in 7 and 10 polling units in the two Wards were cancelled by INEC without their knowledge.
They also lamented that certified true copy of voters register presented at the tribunal by INEC; their passport and accreditation marked tick on the register at the polling units were not found on the register.
The witnesses also testified that voters’ registers that were used for accreditation on election day were rough, and according to them, was as a result of ad-hoc staff opening them consistently for accreditation of voters but were surprised that what were presented by INEC were new documents.
The testimonies by witnesses according to legal analysts, who spoke to our reporter said the testimonies were revealing of how some officials of INEC conspired to cancelled the results of Senator Akpabio to reduce his votes and declare his opponent as the winner of the election. More revelations are expected as the Petitioner calls more witnesses.
The tribunal adjourned till 19 and 20 for Akpabio’s lead counsel, Sunday Ameh (SAN), to present all his witnesses to discredit the declaration of Ekpenyong as winner of the election.