The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been asked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to halt the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) planned examination of the Kogi governorship election materials on November 11, 2023.
The Kogi INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Gabriel Longpet, was also targeted for removal and disciplinary action by the APC, who claimed that he had been corrupted by the SDP and its candidate.
These worries were voiced in a statement made in Lokoja on Wednesday by Kingsley Fanwo, the APC campaign council’s spokesperson and director of media and publicity.
The APC used a purported preliminary objection that INEC’s attorneys had previously brought before the governorship election petition tribunal in Abuja to criticise INEC’s decision to permit the SDP’s legal team to examine the election materials.
The party said, “We hereby call on the Chairman and Management of INEC to immediately halt any inspection of electoral materials used in the Nov. 11, 2023, governorship election in Kogi, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice filed by INEC and others to set the order of inspection aside.
“INEC should commence disciplinary processes against the REC, Dr Longpet, having been heavily compromised by the SDP and its candidate.
“This is because the message from the REC to INEC officials to appear for the inspection on Thursday, Jan. 4, is an admission of graft by him and a final nail on his fraudulent activities in the State.
“He (REC) has clearly misrepresented the integrity and legal interest of INEC. The commission should suspend or redeploy the REC from Kogi pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against him.”
The APC observed that the demands were made in the context of the purported action by the REC to assist the SDP in compromising, altering, or destroying electoral materials utilised in the just concluded Kogi governorship elections on November 11, 2023.
It claimed that on November 25, 2023, the SDP and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, obtained an Ex-parte Order of the tribunal, which directed INEC to permit an inspection of electoral materials used for the election, among other things, in order to help the SDP and its candidate institute and maintain a petition that had not yet been filed.
The party further stated, “INEC was given only 48 hours to comply with the said orders which includes all forms, registers, result sheets, ballot papers and BVAS machines.
“Upon being served with the Order on Nov. 27, 2023, INEC filed a Motion before the Tribunal on Nov. 29, 2023, praying the Court to set aside the said Orders contending that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to make the said Orders and for other reasons such as apparent contradictions in the said Ex-parte Order.
“That motion to set aside dated and filed on 29/11/2023 is to our knowledge still before the Tribunal as it has not been heard.
“It must also be noted that till date, the said order for inspection granted on 25/11/2023 has not been served on the winner of that election, Alhaji Usman Ododo and the APC, who are listed as parties in the said Order of Court.
“Most importantly is the fact that the Petition in respect of which the order of inspection was initially sought and granted was filed on Dec. 2, 2023, with the SDP and its candidate admitting at paragraph 92 of the contentious petition that INEC had given them documents contained in the order which included Voters Register, BVAS Accreditation Reports and Result Sheets.
“With the above background in mind, It is therefore shocking to learn that the REC of INEC in Kogi, who works for a body which has asked a Court to set aside the Ex-parte Order for inspection it made, is now organising an inspection exercise in Abuja for the SDP and its Candidate, an exercise which is fully and financially sponsored by the SDP and its candidate.”
The APC, therefore, disapproved of the messages that the aforementioned REC sent out asking the impacted Kogi staff members of INEC to come to Abuja on Thursday in order to check the election materials.
The party stated, “The messages no doubt show the desperation of the Kogi Resident Electoral Commissioner, who has been heavily compromised by the Social Democratic Party, its Candidate, and their cohorts.”
In response, Kogi INEC’s Director of Voters Education and Publicity (VEP), Haruna Sule, stated that he was surprised by the accusations made by the APC and that they aligned with the planned inspection of the election materials on January 4.
He said, “APC false allegations can’t hold water because the matter is beyond our Kogi office but that of the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.
“REC is acting based on instructions from the headquarters and shouldn’t be unjustly accused.”
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