Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday continued its defense of the victory of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, with further proofs that the election was peaceful, credible and conducted in line with the Electoral Act.
Presenting its case before the Justice Suleiman Ambrosa-led tribunal sitting in Abuja, INEC maintained that relevant electoral procedures were followed before the Commission arrived at the lawful declaration of Governor Wike as the winner of the election in view of the valid votes garnered by him on April 11.
The witnesses conducted elections in Bonny Local Government Area, LGA, Tai LGA, Oyigbo LGA and Akuku Toru LGA. They were serving corps members at the time the election was conducted.
The defense witnesses were led in evidence by the counsel to INEC, Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN ).
In her testimony, Ogechi Anyanwu, a corps member who served as presiding officer ward 8 unit 8 of Tai LGA, confirmed that elections were free and fair, noting that nobody snatched election materials as alleged by Rivers State All Progressives Congress, APC.
The youth Corps member noted that there was no case of violence during the governorship election and that as presiding officer, she never participated in electoral fraud.
She maintained that in line with the training received before the election, she adopted manual accreditation after the card readers malfunctioned.
Another defense witness, Jerry Nyikwagh, who served as presiding officer for ward 7 unit 4 in Tai LGA, explained that he reverted to manual accreditation after the failure of the card readers, but first got permission from his supervisor.
Adeyemi Saheed, who served as presiding officer at Alabrabra polling unit in Akuku Toru LGA described the election as peaceful, credible and free and fair with all the party agents participating.
Mr Fidelis Zeribe, who served as presiding officer at ward 7 unit 5 of Bonny LGA, said nobody manipulated the election, stressing that accreditation and voting took place and a return was made.
The presiding officer for ward 1 unit 1 in Oyigbo LGA, Ifem Charles Chidozie, a former youth corps member, said he didn’t participate in electoral fraud, neither did he see soldiers partake in violent acts or electoral malpractices.
Sofiri Jumbo, a former youth corps member who served as the presiding officer for ward 4 unit 1 in Bonny LGA, testified that the election in his area of coverage was in line with the Electoral Act and election guidelines.
Another Defense witness and presiding officer ward 1 unit 1 in Oyigbo LGA, Onyejen Martins maintained that the governorship election in his area of coverage was peaceful, free, fair and credible.
Under cross examination by Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, counsel to Rivers State APC governorship candidate, all the defense witnesses insisted that voting successfully took place on the day of the governorship election and that card readers and manual accreditation were used.
In the meantime, Justice Suleiman Ambrosa adjourned further hearing on the matter to September 28, for the continuation of INEC’S defense.
So far, INEC has called 8 defense witnesses from five local government areas spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.

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