The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday in Abuja informed the Justice Ambrosa Suleiman-led Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal that the Nigerian Army lied when it submitted that there was no election in Rivers State.
Some top officials of the army had, in their separate testimonies before the tribunal, insisted that the governorship poll in Rivers State was marred by widespread violence and irregularities.
But INEC told the tribunal that the army, in its efforts to discredit the outcome of the April 11 governorship poll in Rivers State, sent soldiers that gave false evidence before the panel.
At the resumed hearing on the petition by the All Progressives Congress and its governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, INEC produced eight witnesses that contradicted the evidence by the Nigerian Army.
The witnesses, who were all presiding officers who conducted the election, informed the tribunal that the governorship election was peaceful and devoid of any form of violence.
While tendering result sheets from the various local government areas as evidence, the witnesses told the tribunal that they resorted to the use of manual accreditation of voters following the failure of card reader machines.
The witnesses also tendered the incidence forms that were filled by voters when the electronic devices could not recognise their voter cards.
According to them, they personally submitted the result sheets at the collation centre.
The PW 12, Onyije Ifeanyi, who is a former member of the National Youth Service Corps, told the tribunal that he was the presiding officer that was in charge of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA.
He said, “My Lords, I took the result to the collation centre myself where I had to wait for my turn because there were other presiding officers that also came to submit their own. It is not true that there was violence at the area I covered. There was no incident of invasion by armed men or shootings. The election was peacefully conducted and everything went successfully.”
According to him, a total of 114 voters were accredited with the card reader machines, adding that his unit recorded 39 cases of unsuccessful accreditations.
In his testimony, the PW 13, Tubonini Mcbala, who was the presiding officer at Unit 8, ward 1 at Degema LGA, insisted that the election was peaceful.
He told the tribunal that the election was monitored by agents of the APC.
While being cross-examined by the counsel for the petitioners, Chief Akinolu Olujimi (SAN), the witness said, “My Lords, there was no incident of shooting or thugs carting away election materials. Any soldier that comes before this tribunal to testify that there was violence is telling lies.
“As the presiding officer, I was there from the beginning of the election to the end. There was no soldier at the polling unit the only security agents we saw were the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and they were all without arms.”
Sequel to an application by the APC and Peterside, the tribunal subpoenaed the Chief of Army Staff to produce some of the soldiers that were deployed to the state during the election to appear and testify before it.
The soldiers, in their separate testimonies, told the tribunal that the election was marred by irregularities such as violence and gunshots by thugs, a situation they said scared voters away.
The four Army Captains who testified included Garba Sani, who was in charge of Tai Local Government Area; Abubakar Mohammed from Bony Camp Lagos, Fred Bala from Maiduguri and Isa Almakura.
They had told the tribunal that they led different troops that were deployed to Rivers State during the election.
They took turns to testify that armed thugs attacked INEC officials at different local government areas in the state and carted away election materials, adding that no election took place at Tai LGA.
Specifically, Almakura, who covered Ikwerri LGA, along with 30 other soldiers, told the tribunal that at a time, his team got confused by the “bombardment of phone calls” from INEC ad hoc staff who he said were shouting for help and begging to be rescued from thugs that invaded their polling units.
On our arrival at polling units in Osuala, Onuerelu, Omerelu and Alu, we found the INEC ad hoc staff, mainly corps members, mercilessly beaten by the thugs,” he added.
Further hearing of the petition continues today (Tuesday).


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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