Six officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, told the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja that they all resorted to the use of manual accreditation when card reader machines failed.
The witnesses told the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal, during separate cross-examinations by counsel to the petitioner, Mr Akinlolu Olujimi (SAN), that their resort to manual accreditation was endorsed by INEC during their training.
Miss Ogechi Maryann-Anyanwu, the presiding officer for Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State, said that the instruction was given to them during their training with INEC before the March 28 presidential election.
“The training we had with INEC was before the presidential election, there was no other training before the governorship election.
“We were asked to use the manual accreditation when the card reader could not cope; this was what we used when the card reader machine started malfunctioning and we had enough accreditation.
“We were issued all election materials, including card reader machine, and the whole thing went on very well,” she said
Mr Jerry Ayawgh, the assistant presiding officer for the same local government, also said that when the card reader in his own station started having problem, he contacted the supervising polling officer (SPO) who gave him another one.
Ayawgh said when the card reader brought by the SPO started developing low battery and people were on queue for accreditation, he resorted to manual accreditation.
Another witness, Mr Adeyemi Moses, the presiding officer for Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, said that there was no incidence of snatching of ballot papers in the polling units he supervised on the day of election.
“We had every material for the election, we started with card reader but along the line, we cut off when problems started.
“I was given 298 ballot papers by my supervisor and I carried out up to 300 accreditation. Everybody in my station voted for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“My polling unit had 30 agents, none of them made any complaint to me on any issue,” Moses said.
He said that he did not see any soldier on the day of the election, adding that he only saw personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defnce Corps (NSCDC) and some police officers.
Another witness, Mr Ameja Zeribu, the Officer for Bonny Local Government Area, also told the tribunal that there was no form of violence in the station he monitored.
Also, Onyuje Martins, the officer for Onyigbo Local Government, said that the election was peaceful in the area he worked.
“We carried out up to 800 accreditations in my station and we did both card reader and manual accreditation,” Martins said.
Mr Ifem Charles Chidozie, another presiding officer for Onyigbo, said he resorted to using manual accreditation because he had been instructed not to disenfranchise anybody.
“I was taught during training not to disenfranchise anyone. Even when the card reader failed, I was given 1,000 ballot papers and I had up to 1,000 voting strength,” he said.