…Apply to headquarters for BVAS’ release, says REC
By Abasi Ita, Calabar
The People Democratic Party (PDP) Special Committee set up for inspection of election materials used in the conduct of the March 18 Governorship and House of Assembly polls in Cross River State has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for deliberately frustrating the committee from executing its mandate despite a subsisting court order
The Cross River State Governorship Election Tribunal had granted the PDP and its Governorship Candidate Senator Sandy Onor relief to inspect relevant sensitive materials used in the said elections.
The relief constituted one of the prayers sought for by the plaintiff in the Petition No:EPT/CR/GOV/03M/2023 dated April 4, 2023, duly filed by Sen. Sandy Onor, the PDP governorship candidate, before the four-man Tribunal is led by Hon Justice J.O. Okeaya Inneh with Hon Justice M.L.Omar and Hon Justice O. O.Olatawura as members
Briefing newsmen in Calabar on Friday on its efforts so far, the Secretary of the PDP Special Committee Inspection team, Chris Agbor, said all attempts made by his members to inspect the listed materials have been met by brick wall and accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Gabriel Yomere, and the Head of Operations of playing hide-and-sick-game with them.
Agbor said when they first interfaced with the INEC team after the order was duly served, the REC had promised to give them six days to inspect the materials, “but surprisingly, the commission has deliberately refused us access to the BVAS, used and unused ballot papers, result sheets, ballot paper stamps and other essential materials”
According to him, “the action of the REC is a flagrant disregard to the subsisting Order issued by honourable Tribunal and this unwholesome posture tantamount to contempt of court.
“At this stage, we are left with no other option than to report to the Court for necessary action to enable us secure unhindered access to the materials. This is an essential process and step in pursuing the matter.
“The action of the Commission, especially the Head of Operations, is an indication that there is a foul play somewhere and we shall pursue this inspection of election materials to the end just as we shall not be deterred in any way from pursuing the case to its logical conclusion.”
When contacted on phone, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State, Prof Gabriel Yomere, claimed he is not aware of any impediment hindering the PDP team from inspecting the materials.
In his words, “I was diagnosed of glaucoma and I am currently in Kano State to see my ophthalmologist for a likely surgery. But before travelling, I handed over to the Administrative Secretary with specific instructions to ensure strict compliance to every Court order.
“PDP is free to access every material at the elections except the BVAS which they must apply to our headquarters in Abuja before we can allow them to check.”