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GUBER ELECTION: TRIBUNAL EXPRESSES DISSATISFACTION OVER COUNSEL'S REPORTS

By NBF News
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The Delta State governorship election tribunal sitting in Asaba at the weekend, expressed dissatisfaction with the reports presented by counsel to Emmanuel Uduaghan and Great Ogboru, candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) respectively.

Besides, the tribunal came hard on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for not fully complying with its order for the provision of the electoral documents needed for the joint inspection, and scanning thereafter by interested parties for their analysis.

The tribunal presided over by Justice Bisoye Ayo, before adjourning again ordered INEC to provide the electronic voters' registers with finger prints and thumbprints of voters used in the election for joint inspection and scanning and for the interested parties to give another report of compliance on August 24 to the tribunal.

It had on May 24 ordered INEC to produce the said electronic and manual voters' registers as well as all relevant electoral documents used in the election in all the 25 local government areas of the state for inspection, scanning and analysis by the interested parties.

That order was made upon an application which was on notice to INEC and which INEC had the opportunity to respond or object to before or even during the proceedings on May 24, which they participated in.

But at the resumed pre-hearing session at the weekend, the petitioners' report on the joint inspection and scanning of electoral documents contradicted and conflicted with that of the first, second and third respondents. INEC was the third respondent.

It was also observed that certain aspects of the report given by INEC conflicted with the reports of the first and second respondents. The first and second respondents were Governor Uduaghan and the PDP.

Counsel to the petitioner, Chief Ogboru, governorship candidate of the DPP, Mr. Nichols Ichekor, had reported that only a few numbers of the expended ballot papers in respect of the six local government areas, which they were challenging and the four local government areas, which the respondents were challenging were provided by INEC for their inspection and scanning.

INEC counsel, Onyinye Anumonye reported that the joint inspection was carried out in the 25 local government areas from June 3 to July 15, 2011, adding that the petitioners jointly inspected the documents with the other parties only in respect of six areas they were challenging and thereafter abandoned the exercise in respect of the other 19 areas including the four areas being challenged by the respondents.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Bisoye Ayo who pointed out the seeming contradictions and conflicts in the three reports orally presented by respective counsel, made specific reference to the manual voters' register and concluded that the tribunal could not rely on it as it was neither here or there. Justice Ayo held that the report given by INEC before the tribunal was not that the electronic voters' registers were not available 'but the INEC IT officer, who provided the print outs, did not have access to the finger and thumb prints aspects of the register in the database. But this does not connote non-availability of the electronic voters' registers.'

The tribunal said the reasons given by INEC were in shadows and unacceptable and expressed dissatisfaction with the partial compliance by INEC of making available electoral materials for joint inspection and scanning exercise. Justice Ayo, therefore, re-ordered INEC to provide the electronic voters' registers with fingerprint and thumbprint impressions for inspection and scanning.