Cole faults INEC over delayed access to Rivers election materials
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has expressed reservation over the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission to obey the court order directing it to release to the party the Certified True Copies of documents used in the governorship elections. He described the action as suspicious.
He said this when some members of the party stormed INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Friday.
The party members alleged that INEC was deliberately frustrating them from approaching the elections petitions tribunal to prove their case, as they have only 21 days to file their petitions.
Cole was accompanied by his running mate, Dr Innocent Barikor, the state APC chairman, Emeka Beke, and the publicity secretary, Darlington Nwauju.
Cole told journalists, “I am not happy at all. We have come to INEC to express our deep frustration about what is going on. Essentially, we are time-bound. We have 21 days from the time the elections were declared to file our petitions.”
He said for the House of Assembly candidates who want to challenge the election, two weeks had gone and that INEC was yet to make the materials available.
He added, “They have not released one single CTC document and we have to prepare a brief and prepare for the tribunal.”
He added, “We have got court orders. They have been ignored. It tells me that something is going on. I believe that at this point in time the onus is on INEC as an independent election administrator to be fair. I am very suspicious.”
He however said when he spoke to the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, he “promised that something will happen on Monday. So we will be back on Monday.”
The state APC Legal Adviser, Dike Iheanhichukwu, said the party would shut down the commission’s office on Monday if their demands were not met.
He stated, “We have made applications asking INEC Rivers State to oblige us of CTC of EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and other related EC series as concerned elections. INEC has not been able to give us a single document. And what we are talking about is going to the Tribunal to seek redress. So what INEC is doing is intentional.
I have here the court order compelling INEC to allow us to inspect documents, for them to give us the CTC. This order has been duly served on INEC. They have decided to disobey the law.”
He alleged compromise on the part of the commission.
He added, “The INEC National Chairman and all security agencies should hear this. INEC should give us what we want because it is our right to file our petition and we must do so. If they don’t do that by Monday, we will barricade this place. No worker will enter here. They should be ready to kill all of us.”
C’River certificates issued
Also in Cross River State, the Governor-elect, Senator Bassey Otu, his deputy, Peter Odey, and the 25 House of Assembly members-elect on Friday received their certificates of return.
The event, which took place at the INEC office in Calabar, was presided over by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Gabriel Yomere.
Speaking shortly after receiving his certificate, Otu, a member of the APC, said he would empower the youth and women when he assumes duty as governor.
In Edo State, the members-elect also received their certificates of return.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Efanga, asked the members-elect to rise above the politics of allegiance to persons who may influence them to act against the interest of their constituencies.
He added, “You must also consult the people before making laws because of their participation in the electoral process, their security and safety must be guaranteed.”