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By NBF News
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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday began its defence in the petition filed by the Congress for Progressive Change against its declaration that President Goodluck Jonathan won the April 16 presidential election.

Two witnesses called by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Boniface Egboka, a Geologist and the Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, who served as the Collation Officer for Anambra State in the poll, and Miss Amadichukwu Chinyere, a member of the National Youth Service Corps who worked as a polling officer in Enugu State, both told the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal that the election was free and fair.

Led in evidence by INEC counsel, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Egboka, in his statement on oath, denied allegations by the Congress for Progressive Change that the collation of results in Anambra State was done at one Barnhill Hotel in Awka.

He averred that the collation of results was only done at the INEC headquarters.

He also maintained that there were no incidences of multiple voting, manipulation of results, ballot box stuffing or any other form of electoral malpractice in any of the polling units in Anambra State.

In the statement which was obtained by journalists, Egboka said the results announced by INEC were the true reflection of votes cast in the presidential election in the state.

Parts of the statement read, 'I was the collation officer for Anambra State in the April 16th, 2011 presidential election and by virtue of my position, I am very familiar with the facts of the election as they relate to Anambra State of Nigeria.

'I know the presidential election was conducted on the 16th of April 2011 throughout the federation including Anambra State and the election was adjudged to be free and fair by both international and local observers as well as most of Nigerians.

'I collated the results from the local government areas of Anambra State only at the legally designated centre which was the INEC state headquarters.

'I know that what was collated at the state level was the true and accurate reflection of the votes cast and recorded in the respective polling units and collated at the wards and local government area collation centers.'