Law News
Delta tribunal: Emerhor accuses INEC lawyer of contradicting commission

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Delta State in the April 11 poll, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, has accused the counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission at the state election petitions tribunal of contradicting INEC on the use of card reader.

Emerhor, in a petition to the Acting Chairman of INEC, Mrs. Amina Zakari, alleged that the responses of Messrs D.D. Dodo and Co, representing INEC at the Delta Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, had “willfully and deliberately contradicted INEC publicly-stated position” on the use of card reader only for voter accreditation.

The APC candidate is challenging the declaration of Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the April 11 governorship election in Delta State.

The petition, dated July 4, copies of which were sent to INEC’s National Commissioner of Legal Services and National Commissioner, Political Party Monitoring, was written by APC’s candidate lawyer, S.M. Egbune.

The APC candidate petition states, “We however noted in dismay and are shocked that Messrs D.D. Dodo & C. (Dodo), in its response to our petition, has willfully and deliberately denied, misstated and contradicted INEC publicly-stated and certified positions with regards to the sanctity of the use of card readers only for the accreditation of voters during the April 11, 2015 governorship elections.

“This position is clearly stated in the INEC issued Manual for Election Officials 2015 and in the Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the Conduct of 2015 General Elections.”

He explained that the response of the INEC counsel to his petition showed that the lawyer does not agree with INEC on the sanctity of card reader for voter accreditation.

Emerhor added, “Upon the perusal of appendix 1, we were shocked at the assertions which directly amount to a denial and contradiction of INEC’s stated position, which is in the public domain. Some of these assertions are

“Paragraph 7b: The Respondents admit that by law and by the 3rd Respondent’s (INEC) directives and guidelines for the conduct of a free, fair, credible and transparent election, accreditation of voters is a condition precedent to voting by a registered voter on election day but deny that 3rd Respondent prescribed the mandatory use of electronic card readers for the accreditation of voters for the election held on April 11, 2015 in each of the polling units in each Local Government Area of Delta State.

“Paragraph 7c: The Respondents state that the Electoral Act is a comprehensive Act which deals with the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Electoral Act 2010 (As amended) provides for the only mode of accreditation of voters, which is solely through the Register of voters. Accreditation at an election is regulated by the Electoral Act 2010 (As amended).

“Paragraph 7d: The introduction of Card Reader Machine is a mere instruction at the election to facilitate the accreditation process and does not in any way equate with or obliterate the express provisions of the Electoral Act, which are extant for all purposes.

“Paragraph 7e: From inception, it was contemplated that upon failure of the Card Reader Machine, other contingencies will be resorted to in order to ensure that election is duly conducted and that legitimate voters were not disenfranchised.

“Paragraph 7f: The ultimate mechanism was a resort to the manual accreditation as provided for in the Electoral Act. The Respondents shall contend that with the challenges presented by the Card Reader Machine, the process of accreditation proceeded as was expressly provided for in the Electoral Act.

“There were no acts of non-compliance which materially affected the result of the election.”

Emerhor alleged that Dodo had filed a motion at the Delta election petitions tribunal, in which he states, “It is our submission therefore the provisions in the manual that introduced Card Readers as mandatory means of accreditation of voters on election day is ultra vires, null and void since it is an attempt to amend the mandatory provisions of Section 49 of the Electoral Act. We urge your Lordship to so hold.”

The APC governorship candidate wondered why INEC, which is expected to be an unbiased umpire in election and at the tribunal, “is portrayed and seen to be disowning its own approved guidelines and its decisions and position in order to defeat our client’s election petition.”

He added, “We are shocked that INEC legal representation at the Tribunal will go directly head on against INEC’s official position, which is in the public domain. Only recently, the just retired Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, publicly restated INEC’s official position, confirming the mandatory use of card readers.

“We do not consider it right, fair or just for INEC or those acting on its behalf to attempt to denounce its own stated position, policy, guidelines and directives in order to assist anyone as that will put the well-earned reputation of INEC as a fair electoral umpire at risk.

“It is our belief therefore that Messrs Dodo is misrepresenting INEC and is acting outside your directives.”

Emerhor called on Zakari to use her good offices to address the “anomalies” that had been outlined in the petition and safeguard the integrity of the commission.

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