Rely on LP’s evidence – INEC tells Enugu tribunal

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The Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday asked the Enugu Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to rely on the certified true copies of BVAS data tendered by the candidate of the Labour Party to decide on the issue of overvoting in Nkanu East Local Government Area took in the March 18 governorship election.

The commission failed to bring some of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Systems (BiVAS) machines used for Owoh and Ugbawka areas in Nkanu East, contrary to what was contained in the subpoena issued by the Tribunal on Saturday.

It, however, asked that the copies of results the commission had availed Labour Party and which have been tendered before the court be taken as valid evidence.

Labour Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, had petitioned the Chairman of INEC, accusing the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, of refusing to heed requests to allow a forensic examination of the BiVAS machines, in disregard to a lawfully issued subpoena.

He, however, closed his case on Sunday.

Following a series of attempts to circumvent the subpoena issued on June 26, 2023, the tribunal issued an oral warrant on Saturday, forcing INEC to appear on Sunday with the BiVAS machines.

INEC arrived at the tribunal as early as 9.00 am on Sunday, with only five BiVAS machines said to have been used to accredit voters in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area.

However, the ones tendered were either empty or clocked, a situation that prevented the forensic expert from conducting any examination of the machines as earlier expected.

Labour Party in its petition said the votes tally for Nkanu was raised from about 15,000 accredited voters to 32,000 votes, representing a hike of more than 16,000 votes.

It added that the Electoral Act provides for cancellation of votes in areas where such cases of overvoting are established.

Among the grounds in his petition are alleged forgery of the NYSC discharge certificate and alleged suppression of votes in Udenu and Enugu South Local Government Areas.

Others include alleged cases of overvoting in some electoral areas in Nkanu East Local Government Area and other forms of discrepancies in Igbo Eze North Local Council.