What International And Local Election Monitors As Well As The Courts Say About Akwa Ibom Governorship Poll 2015.
Reports Of International And Local Election Monitors:
The US Government: “We have seen the reports of violence and irregularities, particularly in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. We hereby call on aggrieved parties to pursue their grievances peacefully in the judicial arena.”
The European Union: “The elections on 11 April 2015 were … marred by systemic weaknesses, misuse of incumbency, use of violence, and an increasingly pressured environment for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), especially in the south. The election day process appeared to be overall more efficient, however procedural shortcomings were prevalent and incidents of violence and interference were evident, especially in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states….Incidents of violence and interference were most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom…. On 12 April, INEC referred to “66 reports of violent incidents, targeting polling units, INEC officials, voters and election materials in 19 states in all geopolitical zones except for the North East. Problems were most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where there are multiple credible reports of violence and interference, which warrant further investigation.”
Nigerian Civil Society: “Information obtained from our networks of field observers and partners indicate the following: Numerous cases of electoral misconduct at polling units – 10 reports in Akwa Ibom. [There were] killings in Rivers State where seven people (including a police officer) were killed and in Akwa Ibom where three people were killed. The Situation Room hereby calls on INEC to urgently take steps to clinically scrutinise the final collated results from Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia against the polling unit results and make a reasoned judgment about them. The Situation Room also notes and condemns in the strongest terms the leading role played by prominent public political officeholders and other politicians as well as some INEC officials in encouraging and actively taking part in organized misconduct and disorderly behaviour that violated the sanctity of the electoral process and calls that action be taken to investigate their activities with a view to prosecuting and sanctioning them, if found culpable, under the law.”
Excerpts from Judgment By Court Of Appeal
Akwa Ibom Guber Poll as Nigeria’s Worst:
“I chip in a word of warning. May this country never again experience the violence and thuggery found to have taken place in Akwa Ibom State during the Governorship elections held on 11th April 2015. Politics should never be so desperate that lives and decorum are sacrificed on the altar of winning at all costs. The descent into almost anarchy as occurred in this case must never again be allowed to take place. The supervising body, INEC, is charged at all times to remain on the side of truth and never be complicit in any subversion of due process.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 58.
Mutilation of Ballot, Lack of Collation and Over-Voting:
“Mutilation or alteration of a document has been held to seal the death for that document. In other words, it makes it worthless and lifeless to the extent of the mutilation. See ORJI V. DORJI TEXTILES MILLS (NIG.) LTD (2010) ALL FWLR (PT.519) 999 AT 1020. Again, documents which ought to be signed have not been signed or purportedly signed by persons who ought not to sign, cannot be relied upon and smacks of presumption of regularity in law. Pertinent also is Exhibit 317, the report of accredited voters in the election on polling unit by polling unit in the entire State, shows that the number of accredited voters was 437,128 while the alleged number of votes cast was 1, 222, 836. Further, the voters register reveals that the accredited voters were 448, 307 while the alleged votes cast was 1, 222, 836…. It is also trite that where over voting has been proved, the effect is to void that election.” Per Per UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656/2015 at page 28-29.
“The Tribunal in considering substantial non-compliance that necessitated the nullification of the results in the 18 LGAs at page 3791 of the records held in paragraph 4 therein thus:
“We did simple arithmetical calculation from the table of voters supplied in the petition in these Local Governments and arrived at a number of 566, 436 voters as those who were by rough estimate disenfranchised. Adding these figures to 89, 685 votes that the 1st Petitioner scored will close the gap between the results declared in favour of the 1st Respondent.” I wonder why the Tribunal could not show how it arrived at this figures. It is evident generally that by Exhibit 317, the total number of accredited voters is 437, 128 while the total figure of votes cast in the election is 1, 222, 836, thus establishing over-voting by documentary evidence. Also, that there were ballot papers muddling and mangling in bags. Where the court/Tribunal has nullified an election for non-compliance, the issue of proving disenfranchisement is a non sequitur and cannot stand.” Per UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656/2015 at page 31.”
“From Eket Local Government Area almost all ward results (Form EC8B) and the Local Government result sheet ( Form EC8C) were mutilated and there was no explanation for the mutilations in so many other Local Government Areas apart from the 18 there were so many of these irregularities. There are overwhelming evidence suggesting that there was no visible collation of results at the State Collation Centre which has impugned the integrity of the Final result in Form EC8D on which the 1st Respondent in the petition was declared and returned as the winner of the election. There was also evidence of over voting. INEC have said nothing on the fact of there being no collation of results at the State Collation Centre. This fact has very telling reciprocal bearing on the integrity of the election even at the 18 affected Local Government Areas.”Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656A/2015 at page 28.
Signing of Multiple Collated Results by One Agent
“In Uyo LGA, it is apparent by the reflection on Exhibits QQ1 – QQ11 that one Joseph Okon Peter signed Form EC8B in Wards 1,3,4,6,10 and 11. One Samuel Efiok Edem signed Form EC8B in Wards 5,7 and 9 and also signed Form EC8C as LG collection agent. All the signatures of Joseph Okon Peter is dated 12/4/2015 when it is true that the said result was collated on 11/4/2015. There are also mutilations and alternations of figures in (Etoi ward 4), (Uyo Urban 2, Ward 02), (Etoi 11, Ward 05), (Oku 11, Ward 02), (Ikono 11, Ward 09), (Uyo Urban 1, Ward 01), (Ofot 1, Ward 06), (Ofot 11, Ward 07).” Per UMANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEAL (JCA), in Appeal No. CA/A/EPT/656/2015 at page 22 – 23.
Collated Results Signed by People Other Than Those Who Swear on Oath to Be Agents for Those Wards
“In INI LGA, Exhibit HHH1-HHH9 show that those who signed as Ward collation agents in Form EC8B are different from those who deposed to be Ward agents. In Nkari, Ward 04, one Joseph Iseyen deposed to be witness statement on oath at pages 311- 313 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the PDP Ward agent but one Hon. Godwin Akpan signed Form EC8B. In Odoro Ukwok,Ward 09, one Gabriel Asuiko deposed to WSO on pages 326-328 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the PDP ward agent but one Moses Udo Solomon signed Form EC8B. In Iwere, Ward 05, one Ukpai Akpan Abia deposed to WSO in pages 314 – 316 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the PDP Ward agent but one Iboro Nse Nnah signed Form EC8B. In Ikono North 2, Ward 07, one Okon Asuquo deposed to WSO in pages 320 – 322 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the ward agent but one Ayanime Idiasen signed Form EC8B. In Ikpe II, Ward 02, one Richard Edikpo deposed to the WSO on pages 305 – 307 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the Ward agent but one Akaniyene Ebong signed Form EC8B. In Itu Nbonuso, Ward 03, one Friday Akpan deposed to WSO on pages 308 – 310 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the Ward agent but one Ekpeyong Ransome Daniel signed Form EC8B. In Ikono North III, Ward 08, one Hon. Michael Etim Ekanem deposed to WSO on pages 323 – 325 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the Ward agent but one Imoh Abam signed Form EC8B. In Nsuk, Ukwok, Ward 10, one Chief Sunday Obiofin deposed to WSO on pages 329 – 331 of the 1st Respondent’s reply that he was the Ward agent but one Isreal Ufia Inyang signed Form EC8B.” Per UMANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEAL (JCA), in Appeal No. CA/A/EPT/656/2015 at page 24 – 25.
Standard of Proof:
“The proof beyond reasonable doubt standard envisaged for corrupt practices or electoral offences in the Act is geared towards not sentencing and convicting aspirants with their electorates but to produce winners ultimately in elections. I think where there is found to be overwhelming evidence of over-voting the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt may not be necessary to prove the electoral offence that culminated into over-voting since election petition is a species of civil suit and not a criminal one.” Per UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656/2015 at page 35 – 36.
“Exhibit 12 seems to expose the partisan role of INEC in the election which smacks of corrupt practice. The trial Tribunal believing that Exhibit 12 has content found that its significance cannot be overlooked. When Exhibits 12, 337 and 317 are taken together with other evidence of the Petitioners one gets the impression that INEC did what they did in the disputed election because they “had a close dealing with the sitting authority in the State.” Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656A/2015 at page 13 – 14.
Non-Compliance with Electoral Act:
“Exhibit 317 is an INEC document. It is their report on the card reader accreditation. It indicated that only a total of 437,120 voters were accredited to vote on 11th April 2015. However, a total of 1,122,836 votes were said to have been cast at the election. That is 685, 708 votes more than the 437, 128 voters accredited to vote at the election. The evidence of Dw. 24 called to douse this fire does not seem to be a sufficient fire extinguisher. The Dw. 24 testified that the information’s from the Card Readers were still being uploaded. The question then is why would INEC declare final result and make return of the winner of an election when there was uncertainty whether, from the field, the total votes cast prima facie exceed the voters accredited? If the return was premature then a case of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, had in my view been established.” Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656A/2015 at page 20.
“The issue of over voting, like the overwhelming evidence of there being no collation exercise at the State Collation Centre, are weighty enough to warrant INEC offering explanation since a strong prima facie case had been made that the election, as conducted, was not in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act. As submitted by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, there are other cases of non-compliance with the Electoral Act which evidence abound in the Record. They include cases of the same persons across different and diverse polling units and wards in different Local Government Areas signing result sheets or electoral forms. Those persons were not shown to be omnipresent at the same time in those various places. INEC had the evidential burden to satisfactorily explain these irregularities and incidents of non-compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines etc that are capable of vitiating the election.” Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656A/2015 at page 21
Use of Card Reader; APC V. Agbaje:
“I have studied both sets of regulations above, I do not see any conflict between the regulations in Section 10 (a) of the Guidelines which stipulate that accreditation shall be the verification of the PVC by the Card Reader and the requirement in Section 49(2) of the Act which stipulates that accreditation shall be by verification of the Register of Voters. Whether the verification be from an electronic data base, as the Guidelines state or from a physical register, the important factor is that the verification be from a Register, whether it is an electronic register or otherwise.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 18.
“Indeed, in the case of APC v Kolawole Agbaje CA/L/GOV/751A/2015 relied upon by the Tribunal and the Respondents as authority for holding the Guidelines to be inconsistent with the Electoral Act, the Court never held the Guidelines to be in conflict with the Act. What Ogbuinya JCA held was the following:
“The evolution of the concept of smart card readers is a familiar one. It came to being during the last general election held in March and April, 2015 in Nigeria. On this score it is a nascent procedure injected into our infant and fledgling electoral system to ensure credible and transparent election. Specifically, it is aimed to concretise our fragile process of accreditation – the keystone of any suffrage. The concept, owing to its recent invention by INEC, a non-legislative body, traces its paternity to the manual for election officials, 2015. Put the other way round, the extant Electoral Act as amended which predates this concept, is not its parent or progenitor. Since it is not the progeny of the Electoral Act, a ground in a petition fronting it as challenge to any election does not have its blessings,… section 138 (1) of it”.
This decision is not a denunciation but a commendation of the innovation of the Card Readers. The warning however by the learned Jurist is that the issue of Card Reader should not be the ground for challenging an election. This is however not the case in the Appellants’ Petition, where the primary ground is that the election is invalidated by substantial non-compliance with the Act…. The instant case does differ from the situation in APC v Agbaje Supra where the issue of the Card Reader was one of the grounds. As the Appellants’ Counsel submits, and I have no reason to disagree, even though this issue is not one of the Grounds, nothing precludes the Petitioner from alluding to the non-compliance with these Guidelines to buttress the grounds of their Petition. Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 18 – 19.
Burden Of Proof:
“From the state of the evidence before the Tribunal, the burden placed on the Appellant to prove the figures accredited by INEC on the date of the election was discharged, I hold, by the production of the Report from INEC (Exhibit 317) detailing the data of accredited voters. The Respondents, however, failed to discharge the evidential burden which shifted on them to disprove the documentary figures produced by the Appellants, they being the party who, by Section 133 (2) of the Evidence Act would fail if no further evidence is adduced in rebuttal. The lower Tribunal, I thus hold, was in grave error to have placed on the Appellants the burden of proving the figures relied upon by the Respondents as showing supplementary accreditation. It was held by the Supreme Court in the case of Okoye v Nwankwo (2014) 15 NWLR Part 1429 Page 93 at Para G-H per Peter-Odili JSC that where the burden of proof has been wrongly placed on the wrong party, there is the likelihood of miscarriage of justice.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 44.
“In the event that one takes the figures in the voters register, which the Respondents claim that they had recourse to on failure of the Card Readers, the total figure of votes accredited is 448, 307, short of the total votes cast by a whopping 674, 529 votes. Again, for the purpose of arguments, if one were to combine both the Card Reader and the Voter’s Register accreditation, the total is 885, 435, still short of the total number of votes cast. Indeed, the last two scenarios are in the realm of speculation, the Respondents, as held by me above, have produced no figures of accredited voters in rebuttal of the figures produced by the Appellants.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 46.
“Whichever way one looks at it, the facts show that the votes recorded at the Governorship elections of April 11th, 2015 were far in excess of the voters accredited for that election. Where the number of votes cast at an election is more than the number of accredited voters, there is a massive irregularity, with the only conclusion being that the candidate returned as the winner did not secure the total number of votes cast. Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 46.
“The case of Ucha v Elechi Supra relied on for proof of noncompliance by production of evidence polling unit by polling unit, ward by ward, can thus not apply in a case as in the instant one, when the very foundation of the election is flawed.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 47.
“It is my opinion that the Tribunal, having believed the evidence of PW33 without reservation and having seen in open court video clips (Exhibit 5 and 6) showing the locking of the gate at INEC should have proceeded to hold it proved that there was indeed no collation of results of the election in question and that votes were merely “allocated”. No finding on this important aspect was unfortunately made by the Tribunal. The evidence of PW33 on the failure of collation is not alone in this contention. Other witnesses also gave evidence of the lack of collation, not only at the ward and local government levels but also at the State level…. The lower Tribunal strangely made no mention nor drew any conclusions from this evidence. The question is, if there is no collation of results, can there be said to be an election? In the absence of any collation of results, the injunction that evidence should be produced by the Appellants from each polling booth by polling booth, as held in the case of Ucha v Elechi Supra, can thus not apply to a case, as in the instant, where there is clear evidence that there was no collation of results.” Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 56.
Where there is no collation of results, there cannot be an election, I hold. Per OLUDOTUN ADEBOLA ADEFOPE-OKOJIE, JCA, in CA/A/EPT/656c/2015 at page 57.
Having clearly shown what happened during and after the governorship election as well as the position of the Court of Appeal on the poll, the Akwa Ibom League for Democracy hereby condemns in very strong terms the ongoing campaign on AIT by the Government of Akwa Ibom State meant to intimidate, discredit and misdirect the Supreme Court and Nigerians in general.
Nigerians are shocked that every day on AIT the Akwa Ibom State Government is frittering away scarce public funds by way of fabricated videos purporting to show how Udom Emmanuel and former governor Godswill Akpabio alone voted during the governorship election. We challenge them to show videos where the candidates of other parties voted also, as well as voting by such elder statesmen as former governor Victor Attah and Atuekong Don Etiebet, both of them life BOT members of the PDP at the time of the election.
At the tribunal, former governor Attah, Otuekong Etiebet, Bishop Samuel Akpan, governorship candidate of the Accord Party, and Umana Okon Umana, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, testified with video evidence and it was accepted by the courts that they did not vote because there were no elections in their wards and local government areas.
We have it on good authority that the ongoing TV campaign of calumny and threat directed at the Judiciary is coordinated by the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr Uwemedimoh Nwoko.
We wonder when television became the court of law. Why did Nwoko and the government that he is advising on the issues of law not present the evidence at the Tribunal if they had any to show how credible elections held in Akwa Ibom State, contrary to the position of international and local election monitors that there were no elections in the state?
Nigeria should not be made a laughing stock before the international community.
The National Judicial Council should take appropriate actions against Nwoko for discrediting and threatening the Judiciary through the ongoing video campaign on AIT by the Akwa Ibom State Government, which seeks to dictate to and intimidate the Supreme Court over the pending appeal by Udom Emmanuel against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Akwa Ibom League For Democracy