The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State caputal, continued proceedings on Friday with the first respondent, Chris Ekpinyong, the People’s Democratic Party candidate for the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district and the declared winner of the election, calling his last witness.
Anny Asikpo, who was led in evidence by Uche Njoku, counsel to Ekpenyong, confirmed that the result from the Essien Udim Local Government Area, where the petitioner, Senatorial Godswill Akpabio comes from, was contrary to INEC’s guideline that all result should be announced at polling units and collation centres, was announced at the headquarters of INEC in Uyo.
Answering a question under cross examination by the the petitioners counsel, Sunday Ameh (SAN), Asikpo said the result was announced when the Resident Officer (RO) for the local government absconded.
She said the result from was not announced until the third day February 25, 2019.
The proceedings went thus:
Counsel to INEC, Ifeoluwa Ojediran: The result of Obot Akara was not cancelled. Am I correct?
Witness: Definitely, Yes
Counsel to INEC: Would I also be correct to say that no issue was raised with regards to the result of Obot Akara LG.?
Witness: No issue at all
Counsel to INEC: Was there any physical examination of the result of Obot Akara LG
Witness: Yes, My lord
Counsel to INEC: At the senatorial district collation centre, the allegation that was made by the petitioner is that Essien Udim collation officer received a phone call.
Witness: My lord, Essien Udim C.O (collation officer) was not there in the hall. So I did not see when he received a phone call
Counsel to INEC: Was any of the senatorial district agents given the result of the LG to be presented (i.e form EC08)
Witness: Yes, my lord
Counsel to INEC: I would therefore be correct to say that the result of Essien Udim was not cancelled
Witness: The E.O left the collation centre without the knowledge of any body.
Counsel: He took permission from Ikot Ekpene EO to use his hall.
Witness: My lord, at that point, I raised an observation and asked him why he came to Ikot Ekpene to tidy up his result instead of Essien Udim while he was there, we were taking results from other LGs. We expected the E.O to bring his result. We waited for about 1hr 30mins till about midnight. Thereafter, the EO came into the hall and informed the people that he had gone from one office to the other in the premises looking for the R0 (resident officer) of Essien Udim but he was nowhere to be found.
Counsel to INEC: There is this other allegation that the party agent noticed that there was over voting in the result of Obot Akara LG. Was there any thing like that?
Witness: Nothing like that at all.
Counsel to INEC: I would be therefore be correct to say that the result of Essien Udim was not cancelled
Witness: The R.O left the collation centre without the knowledge of any body.
Counsel to PDP, Solomon Umoh (SAN) took over: Did the police get involved in the collation of results at any level?
Witness: No, My lord. They did not because they did not conduct the election
Counsel to PDP: You were at the collation centre? I presumed that there, you had the benefit of knowing what transpired in the entire senatorial diistrict.
Witness: Yes, My lord
Counsel to PDP: Look at Exhibit P557 and P535 simultaneously. What is the scores of PDP and APC in that document?
Witness: PDP scored 118,215, APC: 83,158 votes.
Counsel to PDP: Please look at Exhibit P536, Please tell me what PDP and APC scored in Essien Udim
Witness: PDP scored 3,422 while APC scored 6,241
Counsel to PDP: Was election peaceful in Essien Udim based on Senator Godswill Akpabio reliance on the police’s report?
Witness: Election was never peaceful in Essien Udim
Counsel to PDP: Because they did not conduct the election, it was not possible for the police to have all the EC8As & EC8Bs.
Witness: They did not conduct any election
Counsel to PDP: Look at Exhibit p557, the police report. What is the result given to APC and PDP by the police.
Witness: (Senate Election); APC scored 61, 329, PDP scored 9,050
Counsel to petitioners, Sunday Ameh (SAN) took over: Form p535 that you said result was not signed at Ikot Ekpene that night you claimed RO disappeared
Witness: It was not possible to sign that night because the result was not announced that night because Essien Udim result was not recorded that night (the senatorial district result) due to the absence of the CO for Essien Udim. It was signed on Monday at INEC office Uyo (Headquarters)
Counsel to petitioners: You will agree with me that it is the responsibility of the police not to conduct election but to provide security for the election.
Witness: Yes, my lord.
Counsel to petitioners: It is the duty of the police to provide security for all citizens.
Witness: Yes, my lord
Counsel to petitioners: You will also agree with me that copies of election results are usually given in the scheme of affairs of INEC, being senatorial collation agent, the procedure is that the result is given to party officials and the police
Witness: Yes, My lord. I agree that it is a normal thing after election results have been announced, copies of the results are given to party agents and security agencies
Counsel to petitioners: I will be correct to say that the results of units are usually in form EC8A and are transferred to EC8B-EC8c
Witness: That is the procedure. I agree that in the procedure specified by INEC to enter results in INEC form EC8A then transferred to INEC form EC8B and EC8E
Counsel to petitioners: Can you look at Exhibit p536 What is the total no of accredited voters in Essien Udim?
Counsel to petitioners: Look at Exhibit r253A (Smart card) Read the total no of the voters on Exhibit R253A
Counsel: Do you agree with me that accredited voters figure on Exhibit p536 as captured are less than the figures on Exhibit R253?
Witness: I agree that the figure entered in Exhibit p536 is far less than those on R253
Counsel: Read out to the hearing of everybody Exhibit p55 (Police Report)
Witness: (Reads the police report)
Counsel: Does what you have read not corroborate with what you presented
Witness: The Essien Udim RO absconded. This letter (police report) came before the result was actually declared.Result for Essien Udim was not declared or even known as at 24/2/19 – a day after the election. It was officially known and declared on Monday (25 Feb.) in Uyo
Counsel to petitioners: Do you agree that Exhibit p547 is result of Obot Akara and R341 is the result of ward 4 of Obot Akara
Witness: Yes, I agree
Counsel to peitioners: Look at p547. What is the result entered in the column of Total no of accredited voters cancelled?
Witness: The figure is 1140
Counsel: Is it the same figure with the total number of accredited voters in R341
Witness: Yes, My lord. It is 1140
Sitting has been adjourned to July 15 for continuation of hearing.