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Enugu Guber: Controversy Trails LP’s Inspection Of BVAS Machines

Posted by Samuel on Thu 13th Jul, 2023 - tori.ng

They alleged that contrary to the order of the Tribunal, the LP attempted to tamper with the BVAS machines.

BVAS

On Wednesday, a group of political parties in Enugu State stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had adhered to the directive issued by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

It could be recalled that the Tribunal had ordered the INEC to allow the Labour Party and its candidate, Barr Chijioke Edeoga access to the BVAS machines used for the conduct of the March 18, governorship election in the State.

But weeks after, the LP raised the alarm that the INEC had repeatedly denied it access to the BVAS in defiance to the court order.

However, at a press briefing late on Wednesday, chairmen of some political parties in the State claimed the INEC had complied with the order of the Tribunal.

They alleged that contrary to the order of the Tribunal, the LP attempted to tamper with the BVAS machines.

The parties said that such an alleged attempt was contrary to paragraph 8 of the court’s order, which expressly states that the LP and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, be allowed to inspect, but not tamper with the BVAS machines.

They equally alleged that whereas the order for LP to inspect BVAS was granted on 29th March, 2023, the party and Edeoga did not present it till the last minute because they wanted to take other parties by surprise and inspect the BVAS alone.

Mr Afam Ani, the State Chairman of Action Peoples Party, APP, as well as the gubernatorial candidate of the party during the election said the INEC had complied with the order.

Ani said, “We were invited by INEC for BVAS inspection because a court gave an order that the LP should come and inspect the BVAS today. But we actually came here yesterday, but the LP insisted it was not going to hold and it was shifted to today.

“INEC complied with the court order by bringing out the BVAS. The directive said that LP should inspect the BVAS. But they came and insisted they must tamper with the BVAS. But inspection is not tampering with the BVAS.

“The Electoral Law says the BVAS must not be tampered with. INEC is the only body constitutionally empowered to deal with the BVAS. So, we said it would not happen.

“The LP has been displaying numerous rascally behaviours in Enugu State, and we have also witnessed it today. It was too awful. But we, the political parties are here to state that INEC played their part according to what the court expected it to do.

“We played our part too because we were here to observe what was going to happen. And we observed that the thing was done according to the directive of the court.

“We also want to state that nobody should set Enugu State on fire. Enugu State is our home. The election has been conducted and the results declared. Aggrieved parties are seeking redress in court. We are now into governance and the state does not need all these distractions”.

Also speaking, the Enugu State Chairman and gubernatorial candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, Barr Ken Ikeh, expressed disappointment at what he described as LP’s offensive conducts.

“I was disappointed at the attitude exhibited by the LP. They brought a handwritten list of other materials they were now requesting from INEC, different from what is recorded in the court order. But there was no objection.

“In the process, we agreed that those materials should be sorted out per quarter, per quarter, because they can’t all be brought out at the same time. The first set of BVAS brought out was when the argument started. INEC then called all the parties to decide on what should be done because it is a neutral body.

“But LP, which is just one out of the 14 political parties present, was insisting that their wish must be done and their wish was that they can handle the material whichever way they wanted, but which we all objected to”.

On his part, the Deputy Chairman of the PDP in Enugu State, Chief Innocent Ezeoha, accused the LP of mobilising their members, who ought not be involved to intimidate INEC and create crisis and confusion.

“There were about 14 other political parties present, all chairmen, not even representatives. So, we insisted that BVAS should be inspected, not be opened or tampered with, as LP wanted it.

“To our utmost surprise again, LPs that were not invited by INEC all surged into this place and they were demanding that BVAS should be opened and tampered with. That is why we objected to it. BVAS should be inspected, not tampered with”.

He however commended INEC for complying with the court order by bringing out the BVAS for inspection, noting that the exercise had been conducted.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has insisted that no inspection of the BVAS machine took place on Wednesday.

The Party is accusing the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu of disobedience to the court order.

The LP said contrary to the order of the court, the Head of Department, Voter Education at INEC, Mr. Chuka Rex Achumie, invited members of the Peoples Democratic Party, insisting that the Labour Party will not conduct the inspection without the agreement of the PDP.

It added that this situation led to a shouting match at the INEC premises in Enugu, leading to the disruption of the exercise by thugs.

According to the spokesman of the Edeoga Campaign organisation, Engr. George Ugwu, the INEC became partisan in an exercise it was supposed to be the umpire.

He called on well-meaning Nigerians to advise the electoral body to toe the path of honour by respecting a court order.

“We do not understand what these people are doing. As you can see, we arrived here expecting to inspect the BVAS machines.

“How the INEC invited the PDP and insisted they will have to agree before we carry out the inspection is what we do not understand.

“This is the height of impunity and we want Nigerians to bear witness that Enugu REC and INEC are not only showing unhindered partisanship but also disobeying an order of the tribunal in an attempt to frustrate our search for justice,” Ugwu said.

They accused LP of displaying “rascally behaviours”, warning that nobody should set the state on fire.

Addressing newsmen at INEC’s state headquarters in Enugu on Wednesday, one of the 14 party chairmen present and a gubernatorial candidate in the March 18 election, Dr. Afam Ani of the All Peoples Party (APP) said: “We were invited by INEC for BVAS inspection because a court gave an order that the LP should come and inspect the BVAS today. But we actually came here yesterday, but the LP insisted it was not going to hold and it was shifted to today.

“INEC complied with the court order by bringing out the BVAS. The directive said that LP should inspect the BVAS. But they came and insisted they must tamper with the BVAS. But inspection is not tampering with the BVAS. The Electoral Law says the BVAS must not be tampered with. INEC is the only body constitutionally empowered to deal with the BVAS. So, we said it would not happen.

“The LP has been displaying numerous rascally behaviours in Enugu State, and we have also witnessed it today. It was too awful. But we, the political parties are here to state that INEC played their part according to what the court expected it to do. We played our part too because we were here to observe what was going to happen. And we observed that the thing was done according to the directive of the court.

“We also want to state that nobody should set Enugu State on fire. Enugu State is our home. The election has been conducted and the results declared. Aggrieved parties are seeking redress in court. We are now into governance and the state does not need all these distractions”.

Also speaking, the Enugu State Chairman and gubernatorial candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement, Dr. Ken Ikeh, expressed disappointment at what he described as LP’s offensive conducts.

“I was disappointed at the attitude exhibited by the LP. They brought a handwritten list of other materials they were now requesting from INEC, different from what is recorded in the court order. But there was no objection.

“In the process, we agreed that those materials should be sorted out per quarter, per quarter, because they can’t all be brought out at the same time. The first set of BVAS brought out was when the argument started. INEC then called all the parties to decide on what should be done because it is a neutral body.

“But LP, which is just one out of the 14 political parties present, was insisting that their wish must be done and their wish was that they can handle the material whichever way they wanted, but which we all objected to”.

On his part, the Deputy Chairman of the PDP in Enugu State, Chief Innocent Ezeoha, accused the LP of mobilising their members, who ought not be involved to intimidate INEC and create crisis and confusion.

“There were about 14 other political parties present, all chairmen, not even representatives. So, we insisted that BVAS should be inspected, not be opened or tampered with, as LP wanted it.

“To our utmost surprise again, LPs that were not invited by INEC all surged into this place and they were demanding that BVAS should be opened and tampered with. That is why we objected to it. BVAS should be inspected, not tampered with”.

He however commended INEC for complying with the court order by bringing out the BVAS for inspection, noting that the exercise had been conducted.



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