By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
The Cross River State chapter of the Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, has issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, to allow the council chairman and his executives the opportunity to inspect the BVAS machines sent to the state.
Controversy had last month ensued between the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the authority of the state Police Command and the leadership of IPAC over the authenticity and inspection of the Bimodel Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines send to the state by INEC.
In the last one month IPAC had been insisting on inspecting the machines, but the REC had insisted that INEC is bound by law not to allow any one access to the BVAS machines, except the security agencies, who already know where the BVAS are kept
INEC had on several occasions stated that for security reasons, they would not allow any member of the public access to where the BVAS are kept, given the security situation in the country.
Reacting to the issue, the Cross River State IPAC Chairman, Anthony Bissong Attah, issued a 24-hour ultimatum to INEC in Cross River State to allow IPAC the opportunity to inspect the BVAS machines.
IPAC also requested for the redeployment of the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Balarabe Sule, for working together with INEC in frustrating the BVAS inspection.
Attah stated that the ultimatum became necessary following the police and INEC’s refusal to cooperate with IPAC.
Attah alleged that the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, CP, Balarabe refused the advisory council opportunity to inspect the BVAS machines.
The IPAC Chairman averred that despite attempts by IPAC to inspect the machines, the effort had been thwarted.
He said, “We approached the REC exactly two weeks ago to ascertain the real state of the BVAS. He told us his side of the story after which we demanded to inspect the BVAS to see things for ourselves.
“The REC gleefully accepted and asked us to return to the secretariat by 2pm the following day to enable us to inspect the machines in the company of the Police and the DSS. On arriving INEC secretariat the next day, we were barred from seeing the BVAS.
“In reaction to this unaccustomed action by the electoral umpire, we unanimously stormed out of the meeting and immediately addressed the press.
“Some of you here published our story in your papers. Moreover, we demanded that the only way we can trust the commission going forward is to inspect the BVAS in addition to taking record of the IMEI of all the 3281 machines.
“We give INEC REC 24 hours to allow political parties inspect the BVAS in addition to take full record of the IMEI number.”
Reacting to IPAC’s demands, the Head of Voters Education of INEC in Cross River State, Anthonia Nwobi, stated that IPAC’s allegation was ridiculous and baseless.
She said, “I am in a meeting, can’t really say anything now. INEC is not IPAC.”
Also reacting to the development, the state Commissioner of Police, Balarabe, said, “I don’t want to join any issue with anybody. I am only doing my job as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said.
“I am not corrupt and I am not going to join issues with any one. I am only concerned with the safety and security of the people of the state.”