…Storms INEC venue with armed thugs
Frustration, disappointment and dejection were the order of the day as the forensic examination of ballot papers by the Akwa Ibom State’s All Progressives Congress governorship candidate Mr Umana Umana drew to an over the weekend.
Our Correspondent gathered that Mr Umana’s Team was able to scan ballot papers of only six Local Government Areas by the close of the exercise on Saturday and analysts believe this was an insignificant ratio to use in an exercise which had taken place in 31 Local Government Areas.
Mr Umana Okon Umana on Sunday, July 26, stormed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Institute, Central Business District, Abuja with armed men suspected to be fake Policemen and State Security Service, SSS officials to intimidate INEC and PDP officials to allow his agents to have a field day in carting away materials meant for forensic analysis.
Mr Umana’s action, we learnt, was out of frustration that with a day to the end of the court-ordered access to INEC materials for forensic examination, after the materials were brought from Akwa Ibom State, nothing much had been achieved by his team, prompting his direct intervention with illegal Policemen and officials of the State Security Service, SSS.
Our Correspondent covering the forensic examination reports that Mr Umana and his team were fiercely resisted and denied entry into the INEC Institute venue of the forensic examination by the vigilant securitmen and Policemen who mounted sentry at the gate of the Institute.
It was however later revealed that Mr Umana had stormed the INEC with the suspected thugs with the aim of carting away INEC’s sensitive materials which were meant for forensic examination. A heated argument had ensued between Mr Umana’s armed thugs and securitymen attached to the Institute who had demanded to know their identities and their accreditation tags.
Having failed to identify themselves, the INEC Securitymen politely informed Mr Umana that since he was the Petitioner in the case he could be granted access to the premises but his unidentified escorts would not be allowed to access the premises. They queried why Mr Umana should storm the INEC premises with escorts in two Hilux cars.
It was not immediately known what the mission of the APC candidate and the fake Policemen and SSS officials at the Institute was since he had agents who carried out the assignment but a top INEC official who commented on the incident on condition of anonymity since he was not officially authorised to speak on the matter, expressed dismay about the conduct of the APC candidate.
According to the INEC source: “the conduct of the APC candidate is reprehensible and condemnable. Having taken his matter to the Tribunal, we would have thought he has the confidence in the judiciary to do justice. But what we saw today, this resort to self help is a clear indication that the man does not believe in the rule of law,” the source said.
Mr Umana and the thugs hastily left in the two Toyota Hilux cars which had brought them when Policemen from Force headquarters arrived the scene to intervene in the incident. We later gathered that the vigilant INEC Security men had sensed that they may be over powered by the armed thugs and had put calls through to the Police headquarters for urgent intervention.
The scanning of the electoral materials has not been without drama and fierce arguments between agents of the APC and PDP. For instance, on 24 July 2015, the inspection commenced at about 09:47am. At the day’s proceedings, Mr Umana’s Team continued scanning of the Ballot papers used in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area (“Ibiono Ibom LGA”) which they could not finish previous day.
However, INEC later brought another bag of Ballot Papers still of Ibiono Ibom LGA which they had not finished the previous day. The APC Team protested against this but upon explanation by INEC, scanned the new Ballot Papers.
Our Correspondent gathered that Mr Umana’s Team was able to scan ballot papers of only six Local Government Areas by the close of the exercise on Saturday. Analysts believe this was an insignificant ratio to use in an exercise which had taken place in 31 Local Government Areas.
Robert Benson, Abuja