By Abasi Ita, Calabar
Indications are rife that clandestine meetings between Governor Ben Ayade and the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Prof Gabriel Yomere aimed at articulating a common position ahead of the legal tussles over the governorship election held in the State have begun at the Government House in Calabar.
The move said to be triggered by siamese press statements issued by the People Democratic Party, PDP, and its Governorship Candidate Senator Sandy Onor announcing their readiness to challenge the outcome of polls citing a myriad of irregularities ranging from overvoting, vote buying, intimidations as well as nonconduct of elections in some PDP strongholds.
Inside sources revealed that the REC was spotted late Sunday night at the Peregrino Lodge where Ayade, the convener of the nocturnal meeting, and some Collation Officers nominated by the ruling APC for the INEC ad-hoc roles in the last elections were already waiting to kickstart the first session.
SUMMIT POST source opined that the secret dialogue constitutes an integral part of the frantic efforts launched by the duo to curtail loose ends, synchronize election results with thump printed ballots to sync with the data on BVAS machines in a bid to guarantee formidable defense at the Election Tribunal with the view of avoiding a backslash.
Our source continues “as a follow-up to resolution from the nocturnal parley with Governor Ayade, Prof. Yomere has gone ahead to instruct all Electoral Officers in the State to ensure thumb printed ballot papers in their disposal balance with the results announced.”
“BVAS also must be returned to the INEC State Headquarters in Calabar where a team of technicians assembled by the REC in conjunction with the Government House is waiting to do the needful, this readily
explains why some Presiding Officers in designated PUs were told not to cross unused ballots after the election.”
The tenure of Prof Yomere as the REC in Cross River State has been marred by allegations of illicit romance with the Ayade-led APC government culminating in the vote of no confidence on the REC by the Intra Party Advisory Council IPAC following reports of movement of BVAS Machines to Government House before the elections
Though Prof Yomere vehemently denied the allegation, some stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress posing as INEC ad-hoc staff were arrested by the Army in Yala, Cross River North in a hostel after a tip-off during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
When contacted, the Cross River said ” there is no truth in the allegations that I am seeing the Governor and his team reconcile and manipulate the electoral material used for the gubernatorial polls.”
“The last time I met the Governor was before the Christmas celebration, shortly before I traveled for the Yuletide”
He stated that “even if I succeed in manipulating the BVAS, what about the backup at the INEC portal? You can’t manipulate that.”