…says people were sharing drinks and kolanuts
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, agent in Umuahia North Local Government Area, during the last governorship election, Comrade Lucky Akabuike has said that the governorship election that produced governor Okezie Ikpeazu was not manipulated in the Local Government Area where he was party agent.
Testifying today before the Abia State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in the petition filed by Dr Alex Otti and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, against the re-election of Dr Ikpeazu, Comrade Akabuike told the Tribunal that most of the wards in Umuahia North were peaceful during the governorship election, adding that people were sharing drinks and Kolanuts during the exercise due to the friendly nature of the atmosphere.
The former Abia State Labour Leader, disclosed that INEC used three methods to accredit voters during the election. This he said was through Card Reader, semi-biometric and manual accreditation. He explained that where the Card Reader failed completely, INEC used manual accreditation which involved thumb printing on the voters’ register after verification.
Akabuike maintained that this became necessary in view of the fact that many voters who could not be captured by the card reader became agitated because they wanted to cast their votes having registered and issued with voter card.
He said that some of the lapses noticed during the Presidential and National Assembly elections by INEC were corrected during the governorship poll. Some of those lapses taken care of by INEC he said led to the early arrival and distribution of voting materials for the conduct of the election, as well as in the relative peaceful atmosphere and orderliness under which the exercise was conducted.
‘’So there was law and order throughout the duration of the election, and I didn’t see anybody involved in vote buying or selling in Umuahia North LGA’’.
When asked by the Petitioner’s counsel whether he was trained by INEC as party agent, Akabuike answered, yes. Also asked if INEC told him that election would be conducted electronically or manually, he answered that INEC told them it would be in accordance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines through which credible elections would be determined. He also denied that he saw the transmission of results to INEC server electronically.
The petitioner’s counsel at this point reminded him if he was aware that in an election where the total number of votes cast is more than the number of accredited voters that such election was not credible. The Principal witness said that the election could still be credible depending on who recorded it.
He said they were told that in the event the card reader malfunctioned the INEC is allowed to use voters register, pointing out that it was what happened in some polling units and wards in his LGA during the election.
But the counsel to the petitioner put it to him that when the card reader fails to function, ‘’INEC must postpone the election according to electoral guidelines. To this the witness replied that they were not told this by INEC.