Akpabio

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday closed its case before the Akwa Ibom National and State Assembly tribunal sitting in Abuja.

INEC was joined as second respondent in the suit instituted by Chief Inibehe Okori of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Okori, who was the APC candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district approached the tribunal challenging conduct of the poll and declaration of former governor, Godswill Akpabio as winner of the poll.

The electoral body called only one witness on its first day of defence on Monday, with a promise to call additional five witnesses. But at the resumed hearing of the petition on Tuesday, counsel to INEC, Paul Ananabah, told the tribunal that having reviewed their case, they have decided to close their defence. INEC’s defence ended on the 158th day of the trial.

The tribunal then fixed October 5,2015 for adoption of written addresses. The respondents were also given five days to serve the petitioners their written address while the petitioners have four days to reply and two days to reply on point of law if any.

At the Monday sitting, INEC’s witness, Mr. Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Nwakwegwu, who was Electoral Officer for Ukanafun Local Government Area, told the tribunal that the total number of accredited voters in the ten local government areas of the senatorial district was 205,519, but in the final result sheet, the total votes cast was 444,885 and there were for the PDP candidate, Godswill Akpabio.

Asked by counsel to the petitioner, Chief Assam Assam, the purpose of the Incidence Forms that were used in the election, the electoral officer said incidence forms were only for the administrative needs of the electoral commission and nothing more. He said the reason the Card Reader failed to capture some voters biometrics was because they either used the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) at polling units they were not supposed to or the PVCs were fake.

Asked if manual accreditation was part of INEC guidelines for the election, he said the usage of the Card Reader was against the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act as the Election Guidelines was only complementary. “Outside the Electoral Act and Guidelines, there were other instructions, ” he said.

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