It could be recalled that the Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal, Justice W.O Akanbi had on April 2 granted Senator Akpabio, the petitioner and applicant and his agents including forensic experts’ access to inspect and copy all electoral materials used in the Akwa Ibom Northeast senatorial election. However, counsel to SenatorAkpabio, Mr. Patrick Umoh disclosed that the INEC in the state has refused to obey the order of the tribunal to allow them inspect and copy the materials for litigation purposes. Umoh told our correspondent that it was obvious that the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC, Mr. Mike Igini was colluding with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state to frustrate the efforts of the legal team. “We learnt that on the instruction of Igini, Akwa Ibom INEC has consistently flouted the order and has refused the agents of Senator Akpabio and forensic experts access to the election material. INEC has been engaging in a hide-and-seek game. “We also wish to inform you that we had earlier reported for the said inspection on Thursday, the 11thday of April, 2019, Friday, 12thApril, 2019 and Monday, 15thApril, 2019 but our efforts to have access to the materials and inspect same did not yield any positive result,” Umoh said. Akpabio’s lawyer said that the hide-and-seek by Igini may have been to tip off the PDP and give them sufficient time to oppose the move for the inspection of the election materials by forensic experts hired by Senator Akpabio. “INEC has colluded with PDP and advised the party to file a motion on April 16th which they cited as the reason they couldn’t allow the inspection of the materials as ordered by the court. “Analysts believe the hide-and-seek by INEC was to give the PDP enough time to file the motion,” he maintained. Head legal department of INEC in Akwa Ibom, Mr. MarkChukwu who spoke on the matter said it is not true that Akpabio’s legal team was denied access to electoral materials. Chukwu explained that the senator’s lawyers had met with the commission to allow them inspect and copy the materials which the commission quickly granted. He, however, said the inspection which was scheduled for 11am on Wednesday would have taken place but for Motion on Notice obtained from court and issued to INEC by one of the parties in the election. Chukwu further said that despite the Motion on Notice, the commission still went ahead to invite legal teams of all the political parties to come inside the strong room to inspect the materials. He, however, said the inspection was not possible because of the shabby arrangement of the materials, which needed the presence of Electoral Officers to help sort them out.]]>
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