- Says Soldiers, DSS operatives not election monitors
A National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Dr Christopher Iyimoga declared yesterday that the Rivers State Governorship Election of April 11, 2015 was peaceful, credible, free and fair.
This is as a traditional ruler in Orogbum in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Chief Dr Sunny Chinda, also toed the same line, stating that he voted at Unit 19, Ward 2 of the council without any security breach.
These declarations were made at the on-going Rivers State Election Tribunal in Abuja.
Dr Iyimoga served as a member of the INEC Headquarters three -member team that supervised the Rivers State Governorship Election with Mrs. Thelma Erimere and Professor Nurudeen.
He stated at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja that the INEC National Election Monitoring Team for Rivers State visited six local government areas where it observed that the election was peaceful and in line with INEC guidelines and the Electoral Act.
Dr Iyimoga informed the tribunal that soldiers and operatives of the DSS were not part of the official INEC National Monitoring Team to Rivers State, maintaining that only conventional policemen were attached to the team.
He listed the six local government areas visited by team as follows : Port Harcourt, Obio /Akpor, Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai.
The INEC National Commissioner revealed that the election day was so peaceful that they saw young boys on the streets playing football in different locations, pointing out that they would not have been engaged in sports in a hostile environment adding that during the monitoring of the election in the six local government areas, the team did not encounter any form of shooting or snatching of election materials as is being alleged by the APC.
According to him, the team visited super Registration Area Centres (RACs), which covered several wards, where they witnessed peaceful distribution of election materials as well as the process of accreditation and voting at different times of the election day in different locations.
Commenting on Charles Okoye, invited by Rivers State APC as Petitioner Witness (PW) 40, the INEC National Commissioner said the witness was a travel guide to the team and therefore had no locus to write a formal report, stressing that to the best of his knowledge, no report was written by the INEC National Team as none has been brought to his attention.
Under cross examination by counsel to Rivers State APC, Akin Olujimi, SAN, Iyimoga maintained that the commission noted that where card readers failed during the election, incident forms should be used for accreditation.
He further stated under cross examination that he functioned as a monitor and not as a returning officer or collation officer therefore, he informed the tribunal, that he should not be used to demonstrate INEC documents meant for the said officers.
Chief Chinda who is also a consultant gynaecologist said he was accredited via card reader and that the election was devoid of violence.
Another voter, Nkor Philip Abenyibari, who voted at Unit 16, Ward 4 of Gokana LGA said he was accredited with the card reader and voted in a peaceful environment. Abenyibari, a civil servant said no soldiers came to his polling unit as the election was peaceful while Alu Daboere who voted at Unit 8, Ward 5 of Degema LGA said that the election was peaceful, without any violence.
Debre, a fisherman, said he was duly accredited before casting his vote and denied any knowledge of malpractice or soldiers at the polling booths.
Witnesses from Degema, Port Harcourt and Gokana further declared that they did not see any illegal thumb printing of ballot papers.
Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike is expected to close his defence today.