The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), despite an ongoing court order, has been accused of deliberately impeding the People Democratic Party (PDP) Special Committee from carrying out its mandate to inspect election materials used in the conduct of the March 18 governorship and house of assembly elections in Cross River State.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, and the Head of Operations were accused of engaging in a game of hide-and-seek with the PDP Special Committee Inspection team, according to the team’s secretary, Chris Agbor, who spoke to reporters in Calabar, Cross River State, and claimed that all attempts by his members to inspect the listed materials have been met with a brick wall.
The REC had promised to give them six days to inspect the materials when they first interacted with the INEC team after the order had been duly served, according to Agbor, “but surprisingly, the commission has deliberately refused us access to the BVAS, used and unused ballot papers, result sheets, ballot paper thumbs, and other essential materials.”
According to him, “the action of the REC is a flagrant disregard to the subsisting Order issued by honourable Tribunal and this unwholesome posture tantamount to contempt of court”
“At this stage we are left with no other option than to report to the Court for necessary action to enable us secure unhindered access to the materials. This is an essential process and step in pursuing the matter”
“The action of the Commission, especially the Head of Operations, is an indication that there is a foul play somewhere and we shall pursue this inspection of election materials to the end just as we shall not be deterred in any way from pursuing the case to its logical conclusion”
When contacted on phone, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State, Prof Gabriel Yomere, claimed he is not aware of any impediment hindering the PDP team from inspecting the materials.
In his words, “I was diagnosed with glaucoma and I am currently in Kano State to see my ophthalmologist for a likely surgery. But before travelling, I handed over to the Administrative Secretary with specific instructions to ensure strict compliance to every Court order.
“PDP is free to access every materials used at the elections except the BIVAS which they must apply to our headquarters in Abuja before we can allow them to check”
The Cross River State Governorship Election Tribunal had granted the PDP and its Governorship Candidate Senator Sandy Onor relief to inspect relevant sensitive materials used in the said-elections.
The relief constituted one of the prayers sought for by the plaintiff in the Petition No:EPT/CR/GOV/03M/2023 dated April 4,2023 duly filed by Sen. Sandy Onor, the PDP governorship candidate, before the four man Tribunal led by Justice M.L.Omar.
Recall that INEC declared Prince Bassey Otu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of 18th March governorship election in Cross River State.
The INEC Returning Officer, Prof Charles Teddy, who declared him, confirmed that Otu polled a total of 258,619 votes while the PDP candidate, Prof Sandy Onor polled 179,636 votes.
He said the Labour Party candidate, Ogar Osim, got 5957 votes.