26th September, 2011
The Independent National Election Commission, INEC, on Monday at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, opened its defence on the petition filed by Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, challenging the result of last April’s Presidential election.
The electoral body in substantiating the outcome of the polls, called two witnesses who participated in the conduct of the election in both Anambra and Enugu states.
The witness from Anambra state, Prof Boniface Egboka, a Hydro Geologist and Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra state, was the Collation Officer for the state during the Presidential election and adjudged the conduct of the election in the state to be free and fair and debunked the depositions made by witnesses called by the CPC concerning the state.
The University Don told the Tribunal that he actively participated in all the events that led to the conduct of the election from collection to distribution of all electoral materials, accreditation, voting and collation of results from Ward levels to the state level where he personally collated and submitted to the Chief Returning Officer, in his capacity as the state’s collation officer.
On the allegation by the CPC that collation of result was done at Barnhill Hotel at Awka, Prof Egboka categorically denied the allegation and stated that the collation of result in the state was at the INEC Headquarters at Awka, the state’s capital. He maintained that he collated results from Local Governments in the state only at the legally designated centre which is the INEC state Headquarters.
While affirming that the result collated at the state was true and accurate reflection of the votes cast and recorded in the respective polling units across the state, the witness told the Tribunal that agents of political parties had access to him at the designated centres and that none of them lodged any complaint to him of any malpractice with regards to the result of the election and that the final result sheet was endorsed by the available and willing agents who were at the collation centre.
He further denied all allegations of multiple voting, manipulation of results, ballot box stuffing or any malpractice in the polling units as non was reported to him by any party.
Attempts by Mr. Ibrahim Malami, a senior advocate of Nigeria and National Legal Adviser of the CPC to get the INEC witness to admit to inflation of number of votes secured by President Goodluck Jonathan was abortive as the Vice Chancellor maintained the total votes of One Million, One Hundred and Forty – Five Thousand, One Hundred and Sixty – Seven votes listed for Jonathan’s PDP in the final result of the election as released by INEC.
The second witness called by the electoral umpire was Miss Amadi Chukwunulu Chinyere, a former Corp member at a polling unit in Enugu state whom the CPC alleged, was arrested by the Police with already thump printed ballot papers during the election.
Miss Amadi denied ever being arrested by the police or in custody of any already thumb printed election materials. She also submitted that the election at the polling unit where she served during the polls was hitch- free, peaceful, free and fair.
Further proceeding was adjourned to Tuesday for the electoral body to call further witnesses if any.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja