Akpabio vs Ekpenyong: INEC Staff Contradicts Self

One Geraldine, a witness for Chris Ekpenyong in the ongoing National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Wednesday, contradicted herself.

Led in evidence by counsel to Ekpenyong, Uche Njoku in the petition filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio, challenging the declaration of the Ekpenyong as winner of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, Geraldine, a staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had earlier told the tribunal that  election materials meant for Okon Ward 8  in Essien Udim Local Government Area were allegedly  hijacked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) thugs.

She further alleged that polling officers of 17 polling units were forced to write results in exhibits P489 to P508 in favour of APC.

She stated further that only 3 out of the 20 polling unit results were products of accreditation and they  were results in units 12, 14 and 20.

She finally reiterated during the cross examination by the counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Umoh (SAN) that her report about the hijacking by the alleged APC thugs  to her superior officers led to the cancellation of the 17 polling units

Under cross examination by counsel to Akpabio, Sunday Ameh (SAN) and shown the results in exhibits P489 to P508 which she earlier alleged were written by APC thugs in their favour, she became dumb in the witness box.

When pressed further whether she still maintained that the alleged APC thugs entered favourable figures in favour of the PDP instead of APC, she said that she still stood by her position to the general laughter of everyone, including the judges.

Her evidence was also punctured when she was shown exhibit R253 which is a document from INEC and asked how many polling units were therein, and she answered that they were 19 units and when asked whether there was record of accreditation of voters, she answered ‘yes’.

She said that accreditation with PVCs in the smart card reader does not require the use of thumb, and again the whole court roared in laughter.

When probed further by Ameh, she admitted that everything as in exhibit R589 did not happen in her presence but as was narrated to her by the polling unit Officers.

Finally, Akpabio’s counsel asked her to read paragraph 64 of the Reply of INEC to the petitioners’ petition and see whether any unit in Okon Ward 8 was amongst the units of results allegedly cancelled by INEC and her answer was that no polling unit in Okon Ward 8 was ever mentioned as cancelled by INEC in its court process and that again earned laughter and smiles from the supporters of the petitioners who were in court.

She, like other INEC staff, who had earlier given evidence, said that the reports she wrote on the 23rd of February, 2019 to her superiors was neither  acknowledged nor minuted upon by her superiors, lending credence that these reports were written recently but backdated to remedy their gaffe in purportedly canceling results that were already written, whose certified true copies were already given out to parties and are before the court as exhibits.

And like the ones before her,  alleged crimes of ballot snatching, thuggery, violence, abduction etc were never reported to the police directly or by their employer and according to them there was no police presence throughout the time of the alleged crime.

Meanwhile,  attempt by Ekpeyong, the 1st respondent,  to produce forensic experts to discredit the video evidence of Akpabio that there was a peaceful election in his polling unit and ward in Essien Udim Local Government Area was turned down in a ruling by the tribunal which found the procedure strange and unacceptable.

The matter is further adjourned to this Friday by 3pm for the 1st respondent to call his last witness.

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