Contradictions galore as Senator Chris Ekpenyong Presents More Witnesses at Tribunal
Several drama played out Wednesday as the first respondent, Chris Ekpenyong, presents more witnesses in the petition challenging his declaration as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district election.
Senator Godswil 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.
Ekpenyong was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.
The first witness, Elizabeth Gabriel Usen, a staff of INEC, led by Ekpenyong’s Lead Counsel, Uche Njoku, told the Tribunal that she was the supervisor at units 11 and 13 Afaha Ward 2 in Essien Udim Local Government Area.
She alleged that APC armed thugs, hijacked election materials on the day of the election, but failed to state it in her reports, which she said led to the cancellation of the units’ results.
Under examination by Njoku, she said that APC thugs swipped PVC cards they brought along with them to perpetuate election irregularities.
She narrated before the Tribunal that APC thugs stormed the units, hijacked election materials and swipped PVCs on the card readers and thumb printed ballot papers.
When the petitioners’ counsel, Sunday Ameh SAN, asked under cross examination, whether she stated this in her report to her superior , she said she did not.
Asked if card readers recorded number of those accredited, she said she does not know because she does not work in the ICT department of INEC.
When confronted with INEC documents that authenticated voting in the units with 316 accredited voters in unit 11 and 239 in unit 13, and asked if those were signs of voting, she said she does not know.
Also, INEC’s documents tendered before the Tribunal in defence of the petition, which showed results of the alleged cancelled units, was shown to her, Mrs Usen admitted it to be from her employer but said she did not know how it came about.
When also shown result sheets from the units, she confirmed 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.
She said she did not report the invasion of the units by armed thugs to the police, but to her superiors, as instructed by the INEC.
The second witness, Richard Benjamin, a PDP Agent in unit 5, ward 10 in Ini Local Government Area, told the Tribunal that armed thugs destroyed election materials in his unit, hence there was no election.
In his deposition before the Tribunal, he failed to mention it that armed thugs invaded the polling unit.
He said there were policemen in his unit, when armed thugs came to the place, but he did not report the matter to the police, except to party officials.
He contradicted the first respondent, who had said everything went well in the unit in his response to petitioners’ petition.
The third witness for the day, Ekpe Okon Akpan, also a PDP Agent from unit 3, ward 10 Ini Local Government Area, also contradicted himself when he was shown INEC’s document which showed that the column for accreditation were ticked for his 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 today, Thursday.