INEC Admits Accrediting Only 293, 072 Voters For Rivers Governorship Election
SAN FRANCISCO, September 15, (THEWILL) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Tuesday said that only 293,072 voters were accredited for the April 11 governorship election in Rivers.
A total number of 1,029, 102 votes was declared by the returning officer for the election, Mr. Faraday Osasere Oruwese, with the PDP candidate, Nyesom Wike, emerging as winner.
Mrs. Abimbola Oladunjoye, an Assistant Director in the Information Communication Technology (ICT), who also doubled as the Head of Data Management Unit of INEC, gave the information while being led in evidence by Counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Akinlolu Olujimi, (SAN).
Oladunjoye, who gave a brief explanation of how the card reader machine works, said that the information of every voter automatically downloaded into the INEC data base during individual accreditation.
“I am aware that the commission took a decision that the smart card reader should be used for accreditation on governorship election.
“On election day, every voter is suppose to come to the polling unit with his or her voters card.
“The Incident Form is issued to a voter when the card reader cannot successfully accredit him or her.
“The server was available for the card reader data uploading throughout the period of the election and was shut down six weeks after the election,'' she said.
When cross-examined by INEC counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, (SAN), Oladunjoye said that the card reader machine used for the presidential election was the same used for governorship poll.
According to her, the only issue in the card reader machine is that the machine was only reconfigured before the governorship election.
She also said that if a voter card was damaged, the card reader machine might not be able to recognise it, adding that, if it was dirty, there was no problem on the issue of recognition.
“If a card is damaged, the card reader may not be able to recognise it, the card reader are RF ID card which has antenna; the card reader communicates to the antenna to enable it read.
“So if the card is dirty, I don't think there is a problem,'' she said.
When Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, (SAN), counsel to Wike and Chris Uche, SAN, counsel to PDP cross examined the witness, she said that the card reader machine recognised information like the registration area, polling unit and serial number of the voter.
Other information recognised by the card reader machine are Local Government Area, delimitation constituency, a signal of a fail or successful accreditation and total number of accreditation made by the machine.
“We tested the card reader machine before putting it to use and we found out that there were issues that could cause the breakdown of the machine to malfunction.
A Senior Police Officer, Mr. Tafa Michael, had earlier told the tribunal that he arrested more than 70 people in Seme, a satellite town in Tai local government of the state as a result of the distress call he got from his superior officers on election day.
According to Michael, the call came in at about 12: 45 p.m. and that he quickly moved into action alongside his team to the town where he was directed to go.
“On arrival at Seme, there was a compound opposite the PDP secretariat which I was informed by people living in that area that, inside the house, there were a lot of people with election materials.
“I came down with my men from our vehicle and we met the people, including some security men jubilating with election material inside the compound.
“They came there with a lorry and we evacuated them to our place after taking some shot of them with our phones,'' the witness said.
Michael said they discovered Corps members, INEC ad-hoc staff, PDP party agents with election materials like card reader machine, thumb printed ballot papers, electoral boxes, inkpad and T-Shirt in the compound.
According to the witness, after leaving that venue, they took the people to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police.
Michael also said that the snap shot he took with his phone was transferred to a flash drive and that he printed some pictures out from it.
NAN reports that all the respondents counsel urged the tribunal not to admit in evidence the documents produced by this witness including the flash drive.
According to the respondents counsel, all the materials brought by the police officer were not pleaded and that they did not satisfy the provision of Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
Meanwhile, Justice Suleman Ambrosa, the tribunal Chairman, declined to admit the document in evidence as prayed by Counsel to the petitioner.
Ambrosa said that all the documents, including the flash drive were not certified.
The tribunal, however, admitted in evidence the data card reader machine brought by the INEC staff and marked it as evidence.