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TRIBUNAL: Contradictions trail Ekpenyong’s  Witnesses

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TRIBUNAL: Contradictions trail Ekpenyong’s Witnesses < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”>* Card Reader Machine Proves INEC official lied about alleged hijack of materials < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> It was a day of revelation on Wednesday at the National Assembly elections petition tribunal sitting in Uyo as the First Respondent, Engr Chris Ekpenyong, presented more witnesses. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> Senator Goodswil Akpabio and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are challenging Ekpenyong’s declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the February 23 National Assembly election. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> Ekpenyong was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the election. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> The first witness, Elizabeth Gabriel Usen, a staff of INEC, led by Ekpenyong’s lead counsel, Uche Njoku, said she was a supervisor at units 11 and 13 Afaha Ward 2 in Essien Udim Local Government Area. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> According to her, APC armed thugs hijacked election materials on the day of voting. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> However in a curious twist she admitted she did not state this incident in her report, which she claimed she wrote on the same day and which she said led to the cancellation of the units’ results. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> Led in evidence by Njoku, she said that APC thugs swipped PVCs which they brought along with them to perpetuate election irregularities. The swiped PVCs by APC thugs, according to her, resulted in the high figure recorded by the smart card reader machine and thump printed ballot papers. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> When the petitioners’ counsel, Sunday Ameh, SAN asked the INEC official under cross examination, whether she stated this incident in her report to her superior, she said she did not. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> Asked if it was possible for the card reader machine to authenticate and record number of those accredited without their corresponding thump prints, she said she did not know because she does not work with the ICT department of INEC. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> When Mrs Usen was shown INEC document that authenticated voting in the units with 316 accredited voters in unit 11 and 239 in unit 13, and asked if there was sign of voting she also said she did not know. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> Also, INEC’s document tendered before the Tribunal in defence of the petition, which showed results of the alleged cancelled units, was showed to her, though Mrs Gabriel Usen admitted it to be from her employer, she said she did not know how it came about. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> When also shown certified true copies of result sheets from the units, she confessed that they were from INEC but did not know how they came about because there was no election in the units. She claimed there were no policemen at the polling units neither did she see any security officers who escorted the election materials to the units. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> She said she did not report the invasion of the units by armed thugs to the police but to her superiors INEC. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> The second witness, Richard Benjamin, a PDP agent in unit 5, ward 10 in Ini Loca! Local Government Area, told the tribunal that armed thugs destroyed election materials in his unit and so there was no election. However in his deposition before the court, he did not mention it that armed thugs invaded the polling unit. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> He contradicted the first respondent, Engr Chris Ekpenyong who had said in his statement on oath that everything went well in the unit in his response to petitioners’ petition. < p class=”m_-2496692290375660909ydpb969f46eMsoNormal”> The third witness for the day, Ekpe Okon Akpan, also a PDP agent from unit 3, ward 10 Ini Local Government Area, admitted during cross examination that some people were accredited and voted before alleged hijack of materials at the polling unit. He had earlier told INEC’S counsel, Ifeoluwa Ojediran that there was no accreditation, voting or election in his unit. The tribunal adjourned till Thursday.
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