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Delta Election Tribunal: INEC Director Tenders Two Different Guber Results

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SAN FRANCISCO, August 29, (THEWILL) – There was yet another surprise at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta State, Friday, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official summoned by the tribunal presented two different results on the Delta Governorship election obtained from the INEC’s ICT server in Abuja.

An Assistant Director at INEC , Mrs. Abimbola Oladunjoye, who had been giving evidence at the tribunal also said that it took more than six weeks after the governorship election of April 11 for the information to be uploaded, contrary to reports that the data from the card readers used for elections were automatically uploaded from the card reader to INEC ICT database in Abuja on election day.

At the resumption of hearing of the petition brought by APC's Ortega Emerhor against the election of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as Delta State governor at the State Election Tribunal, Oladunjoye shocked the court when she told the court that “we had data upload spanning over about six weeks after election.”

She further raised doubts about the integrity of the INEC ICT Unit when she told the Tribunal that the unit was manned by 12 different people with each person having their individual passwords.

The INEC Assistant Director then presented two different results on the Delta Governorship election obtained from the ICT server in Abuja.

Under cross examination by Alex Iziyon, Counsel to Governor Okowa, Mrs. Oladunjoye said the servers “were shut down in June” on the orders of the then INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, even though the upload had not been concluded.

Oladunjoye also told the Tribunal; “it was possible” all the results were not uploaded adding that she did not have information as to how “many card readers were transmitted and how many were not.”

According to her, the card readers were necessary only for the “purpose of identification (to check the card brought by a person to the polling unit, verification (to verify that the card is an INEC authentic card, and authentication after the card has been verified.”

The INEC Director insisted that the card reader was; “for authentication, different from accreditation” which is done with the voters register.

Meanwhile, INEC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have accused APC and its gubernatorial candidate in the governorship election in the state, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, of stalling trial in the election petition they filed challenging the victory of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the april 2015 polls.

At the resumed hearing of the trial of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Friday, counsel to APC and Emerhor, Chief Thomson Okpoko (SAN) , had moved a motion praying the court for adjournment to enable it get certified copies of his petition documents from INEC.

He had argued that most of the documentations were not properly certified as stipulated by the Supreme Court, adding that the true and proper certification would be done by INEC administrative secretary.

But INEC counsel, Chief Danien Dodo (SAN), raised an objection, saying APC and Emerhor's inability to secure a genuine certification was an act of negligence as they have all the opportunity to do so before approaching the tribunal.

He prayed the court not to grant APC another adjournment as that would amount to stalling the trial noting that ample time have been lost since the tribunal commenced sitting.

He argued further that, the trial can go on, and that APC and Emerhor can submit whatever document in their position whether certified or not, as the tribunal would give them the opportunity of sending in their documents on or before the end of the trial.

He also averred that INEC could avail them the opportunity of using its documents to continue with the trial as both parties will be relying on the same paper to present to the tribunal.

Arguing in the same vein, counsel to PDP, Timothy Kehinde (SAN), urged the tribunal not to grant APC the adjournment, saying doing so will mean overreaching the petitioner and thus delay the proceedings.

He lamented the incessant request for adjournment from the petitioners, adding that the tribunal had already granted such request on 25, 26, 27, and 28 of August 2015, saying any further request for adjournment for the purpose of certification of documents would amount to injustice on the part of the respondents and the general public.

Dr. Alex Izyion, (SAN), counsel to Governor Okowa, in his submission prayed the court to dismiss the motion , saying the petition is sue jeneris as the tribunal has little or no time left, adding that section 46 of the Electoral Act limits the request being sought.

Chairman of the three-man panel tribunal , Justice Nasiru Gunmi , in his ruling , said it has become necessary to grant the petitioners time to regularise their document as that will ensure that the parties are given fair hearing.

He therefore adjourned the matter to September 4, 2015 for continuation of the trial.