…Approach Headquarters If You’re Eager To Inspect BVAS, REC Replies PDP
By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
A special committee set up by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to inspect sensitive materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly elections in Cross River State, has accused INEC of frustrating it from executing its mandate, notwithstanding a subsisting court order granted the PDP.
The Election Petition Tribunal had granted the PDP and its Cross River State governorship candidate, Senator Prof. Sandy Onor, relief to inspect relevant sensitive materials used in the March I8, 2023 contest.
The relief constituted one of the prayers sought for by the plaintiff in the petition, numbered: EPT/CR/GOV/03M/2023, dated April 4, 2023 duly filed by Senator Onor, before the four-man tribunal, led by Hon Justice J.O. Okeaya Inneh, with Hon Justices M.L.Omar and O.O. Olatawura, as members
Speaking to journalists in Calabar on Friday, on efforts made so far on the issue, the Secretary of the PDP Special Committee on Inspection, Chris Agbor, averred that all attempts made by his members to inspect the listed materials had met a brick wall, accussing the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Prof Gabriel Yomere, and the Head of Operations, of playing pranks with the issue.
Agbor stated that when they first interfaced with the INEC team, after the order was duly served, the REC had promised to give them six days to inspect the materials, “but surprisingly, the commission has deliberately refused us access to the BVAS, used and unused ballot papers, result sheets, thumb-printed ballot paper and other essential materials.”
He added, “The action of the REC is a flagrant disregard to the subsisting order issued by the honourable tribunal and this unwholesome posture is 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.”
But, in a swift reaction to the allegation leveled against Cross River State INEC by the state chapter of the PDP, the REC, Prof. Yomere, in a telephone conversation, stated that he was not aware of any impediment hindering the PDP team from inspecting the sensitive election materials as alledged by the PDP Special Committee.
Yomere said, “I was diagnosed of glaucoma and I am currently in Kano State to see my ophthalmologist for a likely surgery. But before traveling, 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 and seek permission from our headquarters in Abuja before we can allow them to check.”