INEC officials testify against SDP candidate in Keffi East assembly tussle

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Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who were subpoenaed to appear before the state assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State, testified against the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), earlier declared as winner of the Keffi East assembly seat.
Engineer Wada Mohammed of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is challenging the declaration of Suleiman Abdulaziz Danladi of the SDP as winner of the March 9 state assembly election with INEC as third respondents.
Documents obtained by our reporter, including copies of witness statements tendered before the tribunal, indicate that both the presiding officer, ward collation officer and constituency returning officer, testified against Suleiman Abdulaziz Danladi, stressing that the SDP candidate didn’t secure lawful votes to emerge winner of the election held on March 9, 2019.
Testifying before the tribunal, Aliyu Haruna Awaisu, Constituency Return wing Officer for Keffi East Constituency, confirmed that there was over voting in two polling units as well as the unlawful cancellation of result in Makera Polling Unit 004.
According to Awaisu, “the result of Makera Polling Unit 004, if not unlawfully excluded would have made the petitioners to be declared and returned as the winners of the election against the 1st and 2nd respondents.”
Earlier in their various submissions, Idris Muhammed Muhammed Ward Collation Officer at Liman Abaji ward and Shuaibu Oguma Hassan, Presiding Officer at Angwan NEPA polling units, established instances of over voting and forceful interference by thugs.
In his statement before the tribunal, Muhammed said that while collating the result for Liman Abaji 001 (Kofar Alkali Mukhtar), he got the total number of accredited voters as 777, while the total votes cast is 783.
He said on discovering the discrepancy, he requested the presiding officer for the said polling unit to reconcile the figures.
“That soon after the instruction was given, some thugs led by a man popularly known as Hon. Scatter invaded the collation centre and threatened to deal with me if I failed to enter the result of Liman Abaji 001 by reducing the scores of the parties in order to cover up the over voting in that polling unit result.”
Muhammed confirmed that he was forced to reduce the result of the APC, SDP and PDP by five votes to make up the tally.
In his conclusion, the ward collation officer averred that: ” I know that the aggregate of 392 votes credited to the petitioners for the two polling units, and 679 also credited to the 1st and 2nd respondents are unlawful votes and should be deducted.
“That if the unlawful votes of 392 is deducted from the petitioners scores of 1, 531 as declared by the 3rd respondent, he would now be having 1, 139 votes for Liman Abaji ward.
” That also, if the unlawful votes of 679 is deducted from the scores of the 1st and 2nd respondents as declared by the 3rd respondent, he would now be having 1, 055 for Liman Abaji ward.”
On his part, Shuiabu Oguma Hassan, presiding officer at Angwan NEPA polling unit, testified that the card reader malfunctioned, with pockets of violence. He gave the total number of accredited voters as 559 while that of the total vote cast as 567.
Commenting over the proceedings on Thursday, lead counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Mubarak Adekileku, said so far, they are satisfied with the proceedings.
Adekileku however said they will petition the ruling of the tribunal for rejecting a video clip tendered by one of its witness recording the scene where the returning officer and collation officer were talking of over voting in a particular unit within the ward.
“We sought to tender a video, a VCD recorded by an agent of the APC but in the process of tendering it the other counsel contested the admissibility of same.
” We argued it and was pleaded that the video is relevant to the proceedings but at the end, the tribunal overruled us saying that the video is a public document because the agent recorded an act of a public officer,” Adekileku stated.

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