Counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate (Umana Okon Umana) in Akwa Ibom State, Victor Iyanam, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of trying to sabotage proceedings at the tribunal.
He alleged that INEC poured water on one million ballot papers, making it difficult for the required forensic examination to be carried out.
The APC candidate, Umana Umana, took the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the April 11 election in the state, Emmanuel Udom, to the tribunal after he (Udom) was declared winner of the said election by the electoral body.
Speaking on Wednesday, Iyanam, who is a former commissioner of justice in the state said, the judge initially ruled that trial should start on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 but that since the materials arrived on Friday, July 3, after office hours, “the petitioner asked for 14 days extension before trial. The judge however gave seven days which included Saturday and Sunday. The trial will now begin on Tuesday, July 14.”
He said the problem was that INEC was using the same delay tactics they used in Uyo to make it impossible for the forensic team to start their work.
INEC had, on July 6, requested a letter from the petitioner to allow the forensic team start work, which they received same day.
Umanah’s counsel alleged that on July 7, the commission “requested that to proceed with examination, they need the legal officer from Uyo, who accompanied the election materials to Abuja to return. The legal officer just dumped the materials on Friday and returned to Uyo without handing over officially to anyone.
“Procedurally, they have to wait for the legal officer from Uyo to hand over the materials which, at this point, could take another day. At this rate, the forensic team might not be able to examine the materials on time.”
He noted that it takes two to three weeks to properly examine the materials and “in this case, we are looking at about one million ballot papers. The worst part is that the process to examine the evidence has been made harder by INEC officials, who squeezed the papers like trash and poured water on them.
“This means the ballot papers will have to be straightened out and dried to be able to scan them electronically for examination. This doubles the time for the forensics team as the machines that would normally scan 50 papers per minute will now be unable to do so.
“Again, we just heard that the Head of Legal is coming to Abuja by road to officially hand over to INEC headquarters. When will he get here? This is just part of their efforts to delay everything. Based on a technical precedence of the tribunal proceedings, the terrible state of the election materials is on its own a criminal offence,” he said.