INEC, Army differ over conduct of Rivers gubernatorial election
Electoral body declares poll violence-free
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State yesterday declared the April 11, 2015 governorship polls as violence free and successful, saying the Nigerian Army was wrong when it claimed that the poll was marred by violence and malpractices.
In its evidence in chief before the tribunal, INEC accused the Army of sending its officers to deliberately discredit the peaceful conduct of the election.
Officers from the Nigerian Army had in their separate testimonies before the tribunal maintained that the governorship election in the state never took place due to the activities of thugs who disrupted the process by snatching election materials and beating up INEC officials.
The officers further testified that the election was aborted by activities of thugs who hijacked and carted away electoral materials amidst sporadic shooting in four local councils in the state.
Those who testified were Captain Garba Sani, Sadiq Abubakar (leader of the patrol troop in Abual/Odua); Captain Fred Bala (leader of the patrol troop in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni), Isa Al-Makura (leader of the troop in Ikwerre) and Captain Jeremiah Salihu (leader of the troop in Gokana).
But at the resumed hearing on the petition that was filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, INEC called eight witnesses who debunked the submissions of the Army, as they took turns to testify that the election was peaceful, successful and devoid of any form of violence.
The witnesses who were all presiding officers and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that conducted the election included Deekumor Richmond, who was a presiding officer in Unit 4, Ward 10 in Adoni Local Council of the state; Nwachukwu Chimezie, also a presiding officer in Unit 1, Ward 14, Degema LGA; Apoodari Dilo, presiding officer in Unit 2, Ward 4 in Gokoma LGA; Oyide Ifeanyi; Tubonimi Mcbala; Mohammed Yusuf; Maxwell Loveday and Ogunkoye Olumide respectively.
They all testified to the credibility and peaceful conduct of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state.
After adopting their separate witness statements on oath, they were led in evidence by the various defence counsel in the petition; namely, Dr. Onyekachi Ikpeazu (SAN) for INEC, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) for Governor Wike and Chief Chris Uche (SAN) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was their common evidence that contrary to the evidence of the Nigerian Army, the election was conducted peacefully without violence.
The Commission had earlier called seven witnesses who are presiding officers in polling units spread across four local councils and who conducted elections in Bonny, Tai, Oyigbo and Akuku Toru councils to testify.