Rivers: Wike’s Election Victory In Doubt As INEC Says Only 293,072 Accredited To Vote
More revelations that suggest that Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike’s days are indeed numbered in the Government House, Port Harcourt came out again today with the disclosure by a Director in charge of the ICT department of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Mrs. Abimbola Oladunjoye before the Rivers State governorship election petition tribunal that only a total of 293,072 voters were accredited for the April 11, 2015 governorship polls in the state.
In a report submitted to the tribunal and admitted as exhibit A9, the INEC Director who said she was in charge of INEC data base which includes voters registration data base and Smart Card reader data accreditation, she said the information on the card reader is uploaded from the Commission’s server at the close of accreditation. Mrs. Oladunjoye testified at the tribunal following a subpoena issued on the acting Chairman of the electoral body.
According to her, “Data comes in polling unit which can be accredited to wards, Local Government Area, State and Federal level as the case may be. So the total number of 293,072 accredited voters is arrived at by adding successful accreditation and failed accreditation.”
She further told the tribunal that the INEC server was shut down six weeks after the conduct of the election adding that the document represented all data relating to accreditation of voters in Rivers state and contained in Card reader.
Also testifying before the tribunal, three police officers told the tribunal how the April 11 election in Rivers State was marred by violence, thumb-printing by agents of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in Tai Local Government Area of the state.
In his evidence, Mr Garba Michael, a Superintendent of Police who was on election duty on April 11 in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State told the State Election Petitions Tribunal that his men caught agents of the PDP thumb-printing in a house opposite their party’s secretariat at Seme in Tai Local Government Area.
The police officer told the Justice Suleman Ambrosa-led tribunal that over 70 persons, including PDP agents, staff of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the commission’s ad hoc staff and other individuals were arrested by his men shortly after noon on election day and were taken to their office.
Michael added that materials like card readers, ballot papers, vests and ink pad were also among items they recovered from the group who were eventually handed over to the force Criminal Investigation Department, CID after preliminary investigations were concluded.
According to him, “at about 12.45 pm, I was sitting at INEC office when I got a distress call that people were thumb-printing at Seme area. I found my way to the place after asking questions from people on the road. I was eventually directed to the place after sometime. When I got to Seme, I stopped very close to PDP secretariat and asked again. I was informed that the house opposite the PDP secretariat had a lot of people with electoral materials.
“I then came down with my men, cordoned the compound and in the process of doing that, I sighted the patrol vehicle of anti-terrorism squad. I beckoned on them to stop, which they did and I informed them that I needed assistance.
“They joined forces with my men and we entered the compound where we met people thumb-printing on electoral materials, we arrested them. At that point, I called my superior commander and told him the situation. He came down with a lorry with which we evacuated the people and materials to our base in Tai. I took some photographs before leaving the place.”
Michael who gave graphic details of all that happened, particularly with reference to ballot-box snatching, the violence and shooting that took place at Tai Local Government Area of the state on April 11 later deposited photo evidence to the tribunal. However, the court rejected to admit the photographs in evidence while agreeing with counsel to the respondents that it offends the provisions of the Evidence Act.
Another police officer, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr. Yusuf Buba of Police Mobile Squadron, Ogoni, Rivers State has revealed how an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kenneth Akabue aided and supervised the rigging of the April 11 governorship election in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Khana Local Government Area of the state.
Buba who was posted as Unit Commander to Khana on the eve of the election narrated to the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal, the irregularities and show of impunity which came to a climax with Akabue’s brazen support of the PDP.
Akabue who was Buba’s Area Commander during the election had taken actions from the eve of the election that left no one in doubt about his preference and support for the former ruling party.
Buba told the tribunal about how he cited a bus loaded with unknown persons at the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and how shortly after, the Area Commander disappeared with the Electoral Office in charge of elections in the local government.
According to him, the electoral officer returned the next morning, claiming security issues as reasons for her disappearance. “She left her INEC officers all through the night and they looked for her all night. She said she went away because she saw that her life was in danger, and that she had no choice than to follow the Area Commander.
“I told her to address her staff and issue materials. Within that period, sporadic gunshots erupted from Zaakpon axis but we responded. At about 10.00 hours, the Area Commander came and dismantled the barriers we had erected. This was why political thugs gained access and started carting away electoral materials. There and then, we lost control because everywhere had become very rowdy. Then the Area Commander left.
“At about 13.00 hours, I left some men in the office and moved with some on patrol. Among the places we visited was Bori. At the field in front of the Area Commander’s office in Bori, we saw people thumb-printing. I went straight to the Area Commander’s office, surprisingly, I met the E.O. with him. I reported to him what was happening outside but he said I should mind my business. I was left with no option but to leave his office and continue my patrol.
“In all the places we patrolled, election did not take place. And election materials given to Corps members were snatched at gun point because police men with them were unarmed. So there was no voting and collation of result because everybody moved to Port Harcourt almost immediately after the close of the exercise. But the following day they returned to Khana Local Government Secretariat and just announced the result they came back with.
“I did not see people queuing to cast votes. I only saw people in an open field thumb-printing. Do you call that an election?” Another police officer, DSP Ezeruibo Chisom told the tribunal how election was disrupted in Ahoda Local Government Area of the state following activities of cult groups and political thugs.