Tribunal: INEC risks contempt charge in Cross River, failed to produce result sheet

As pre trial begins at the Election Petition Tribunal in Calabar, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) yesterday risked a contempt charge as it failed to comply with the tribunal’s order of April 6.

The tribunal had among things ordered INEC to produce result sheet of Etung/Obubra Federal House of Representatives elections in Cross River State.

INEC, represented by its counsel Mr. Henry Ituen told the tribunal that the commission was unable to present copies of election results sheets as ordered by it in Suit No. EPT/CAL/HR/12/2019 between Innocent Chima Ovat, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Michael Irom Etaba, PDP & INEC.

Ituen, Esq informed the Tribunal that the result sheets of the said election of February 23 were not available as they were destroyed in the field in the course of the said election.

When asked if that was earlier pleaded, he answered in affirmative saying he had pleaded that excuse about the result sheets in the record of his submissions in court.

In addition, INEC did not comply with the court order of April 6, that it should allow the candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency seat, Innocent Ovat , to inspect the Smart Card Reader machines that were used in the election for that area.

The tribunal had also ordered INEC to release to the petitioner the certified true copies of Form EC 8A of all the polling units.

That “the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state to forthwith produce and release to the petitioners, for their own use in this petition, certified true copies of the printout of data of accredited/verified voters of each polling unit as recorded by the smart card readers deployed for the election to the membership of the House of Representatives of Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency.”

The Petitioners counsel, Offiong O. Offiong informed the Tribunal at the pre-trial session that INEC was in contempt of the orders of the Tribunal made on April 6 as they have failed to comply with the orders of the Tribunal

The Chairman of the three man tribunal, Justice Vincent M. Agbata, who was not happy with the attitude of INEC not complying with its order said such action could amount to contempt.

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