The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State has expressed worry over the acceptance of the Accreditation Incidence Report Form at the on-going Akwa Ibom Election Petition Tribunal currently sitting in Abuja.
The APC is disturbed that the admission of the incidence forms at the tribunal will puncture their chances of proving that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State. In a recent publication sponsored by the APC on Sahara Reporters, the party has alleged that
“the Akwa Ibom REC plotted with the PDP and fraudulently filed several hundreds of thousands of incident forms after the sham election has been concluded to cover up for the massive difference between the total number of accredited voters as recorded by the card reader and the fraudulent votes that was declared”.
The APC in several releases have insisted that the only valid method of accreditation at the April 11 governorship polls is the card reader and have anchored their arguments at the tribunal on the card reader as the only method of accreditation.
The APC were however stunned on Thursday when sequel to PDP’s application for a subpoena to compel INEC to produce the Incident Forms as part of their defense, the incident forms were received by the court in six large bags after they were presented by Mr Obinna Ayogu from INEC, Akwa Ibom State.
The recent position of the courts on accreditation of voters in Nigeria is that a faulty card reader cannot be a ground for invalidating an election. The Court of Appeal on August 26 in the case of Agbaje vs Ambode held that the Electoral Act (2010) as amended does not recognise the malfunctioning of a card reader as one of the factors that can lead to the nullification of an election. The court of Appeal made the position clear in a verdict on a cross-appeal filed the All Progressive Congress (APC) challenging parts of the Governorship Election Tribunal’s verdict in the case of Jimi Agbaje versus Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and others.
Resolving the card reader question in favour of the APC, Lagos State, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya held that, “The evolution of the concept of smart card reader is a familiar one. It came to being during the last election. On this score, it is a nascent procedure injected into our infant and fledgling electoral system to ensure credible and transparent election…Put simply, a petitioner cannot project the non-presence or improper use of smart card reader as a ground for questioning an election. It does not qualify as one”.
Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State have so far paraded 23 witnesses who have testified under oath that there was election in Akwa Ibom State and that both the card reader and incidence forms were used for accreditation.
Tribunal resumes on the 14th September, 2015.