Akwa Ibom Tribunal Justice Umar Sadiq walked in accompanied by two other Judges
The court is seated and Court Registrar announces case.
Parties are absent.
Solomon Umoh, SAN with 15 others appeared for the -Petitioners
Paul Usoro, SAN and 8 others for the – 1st Respondent
Tayo Oyetibo, SAN and 3 others for the – 2nd respondent;
Alex Ejesieme with Obinna Onya for the -3rd and 4th respondents.
DW 26 is Dominic Okenna. He is a Civil servant, works with INEC Akwa Ibom State. He is sworn an oath and admits that he deposed to a witness statement on May 25 and he adopts it.
DW26 says he was erroneously addressed as female when actually he is a male. The Judge on a lighter mode asks him, are you male or female? (And the court erupts in laughter).
During cross examination, DW26 admits that he swore to the witness statement. Added that he was the Electoral officer for Onna Local Government Area.
Paragraph 112 of chapter 1 at page 338 of Manual for Election Officials is read for him and he admits that was his role during the elections.
DW 26 says he visited almost all the 131 polling units in Onna LGA.
DW26 says he witnessed the collation of results at the Local Government level.
DW26 admits that he wrote about the card reader machine in his witness statement and that he observed that there were challenges with the card reader.
DW26 said the card reader was slow in capturing the biometrics of the voters and the batteries ran out rather too quickly in the course of usage despite the fact that it was charged during the day before.
DW26 said there were instances the card reader didn’t work at all.
DW26 said in the occasion of a battery rundown, he says there were two trained staff to handle trouble shooting situations and he directed them to handle all the challenges.
DW26 is shown Form EC8B for Awa Ward 3 marked as Exhibit ZZ3 and it is the election results which showed blank spaces.
DW26 says elections did not take place there in those areas. He said collation ended about 4am on April 12.
DW26 said he was also present for the state collation of results as it is part of his function.
DW26 admits he has worked with INEC for 20 years. He says he has also worked as Head of Logistics at INEC. From experience, he says Electoral officers bring results to the head office of INEC accompanied by the LG Collation officers and the results are presented in full view of everyone.
DW26 said he was not the Electoral officer present at the State collation centre. He said he was responsible for distribution of materials and contrary to the testimony of Bishop Samuel Akpan and Patrick Ekpotu (PW 32), the materials were distributed in the face of all.
DW26 says despite the fact that the results were not signed by some agents, by INEC regulations, it does not invalidate the process and the result and does not stop INEC from going ahead to announce results. He says it is always the trend that most agents when their party fails in the elections, they refuse to sign the documents.
DW26 said he never received the press statement purportedly sent from INEC ABUJA on the use of card readers. He says there is a procedure for sending information to the state INEC officers. That usually all circulars from Abuja go through the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, addressed to him and from there to the other officials as each peculiar case may be. He says the statement was merely a press statement, not an official circular.
DW26 further confirms that there is a pyramid that collation of results takes place from , EC8A to EC8E. Exhibit 338 is read to him which says that INEC keeps safely election materials returned to him. He says in his case, he kept it safely and returned it to the headquarters. APC counsel makes an application that the ballot papers for Onna be brought before the court for the Electoral officer to confirm whether he kept them well as he said. He applies that Exhibit 345 to be brought before the court.
INEC lawyer raises an objection that his application should have brought via a motion on notice . And that he must seek the leave of court to bring the application outside pre-hearing session. On the other hand,” if counsel had given notice to the witness and witness fails to produce the documents.
By the decision of the supreme Court in Buhari vs Obasanjo, the supreme Court made it clear that counsel will be expected to tender the ones he kept in his own custody. I urge my lord to disallow the application and conclude his cross examination”.
Tribunal clears the air that the ballot papers were not received local government by local government so the tribunal cannot go and sort them out now.
APC lawyer re-adjusts his application and demands that any bag or two be brought before the tribunal.
A bag is brought before the court. APC lawyer asks DW26 to identify Awa ward 3 ballot papers in the bag.
INEC lawyer objects to that line of questioning. He reasons that the APC did not include that ballot papers be sorted local govt by local govt in his pleadings and as such cannot smuggle in the evidence via the back door as it will change the character of his case to the detriment of the respondents who will not have an opportunity to address the matter. He reasoned that it is an election Petition and has a strict code of guidelines.
Tribunal rules that the APC lawyer can go ahead and asks questions on that line. DW26 is asked to identify a ballot paper and mention which local government it belongs to.
DW26 says the materials left his custody early May and he hasn’t had access since then.
The witness is further shown a document that shows number of accreditated voters in the state. And he reads the figure. Witness is discharged.
Tribunal resumes sitting and the 2nd witness (DW27) for the day is called.
The witness is Mr. Austine Nwana, a staff of INEC, says he works at INEC, Akwa Ibom State.
DW27 admits he was Electoral Officer for Nsit Ubium LGA.
Paul Usoro SAN begins cross examination of DW27 with Mr. Usoro asking for some exhibits from the registry.
DW27 explains that RAC is Registration Area Centre &Super RAC is a place where election materials are brought before moving to RAC
DW27 says he’s aware that the first petitioner, Mr Umana Okon Umana is from Nsit Ubium LGA. and he know him.
Paul Usoro SAN calls for Exhibit 321(A) (a video clip tendered by the petitioner) which he applies to show to the witness.
A video is played and he is asked to identify himself there. The video shows Obong Umana complaining that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State.
DW27 From the video, he says there was election in Nsit Ubium LGA. He is shown Exhibits JJ 1-10. He identified the polling units that there was no election.
There was cancellation of results in 7 units out of 88 units in the entire local government. He said he went out to the field and he saw firsthand the conduct of the elections. He said he visited over 75 units.
Usoro asks DW27 says Obong Umana’s claim that there was no election is not true.
DW27 says he did not receive complaints from his supervisory officer that ballot papers were not enough except the complaints of the Petitioner.
On the distribution of materials, he says he was involved in the process as the Electoral officer of the LGA. He is its shown form EC8E and he says he supervised the collation.
DW27 said collation was concluded at about 3am.
DW27 is shown Mr Umana Umana’s PVC, its shows Umana Umana went to the wrong polling unit. His PVC shows he is registered in 03/21/04/ 001. That is in ward 4 whereas Umana said in his witness statement that he went to ward 3.
DW27 said he listened to Mr Umana Umana’s complaints but when he tried to speak, Mr Umana diverted attention and refused to listen to him. He said he never said there was failure of security in Nsit Ubium LGA.
DW27 said he never said there was no election in Nsit Ubium LGA. He said Umana’s purpose of bringing cameras to his office was to put on record that there was no election in Nsit Ubium LGA.
APC once again demands that the bag containing ballot papers for Nsit Ubium LGA be produced in court.
It is done. APC lawyer doesn’t put it to use. Witness says incident forms were used in Nsit Ubium.
DW27 is discharged.
Court adjourned to Thursday, September 17, 2015 for continuation of defense.
The Court rises. #TheEnd