Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

The Delta State governorship election petition tribunal, sitting in Asaba, has admitted four key documents, including card readers’ accreditation report, tendered by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The accreditation report submitted by INEC showed that the number of accredited voters for the April 11 governorship election in Delta state was lower than the results announced by electoral officials after the polls.

Two INEC officials – Assistant Director, ICT Department from Abuja headquarters and Chief Planning Officer, Delta State office – were directed to give testimony on the conduct of the April 11 election, following the request by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Emerhor Otega.

The Delta election, won by Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party, is being challenged by the APC and Mr. Otega.

Apart from the accreditation report, other documents tendered by the INEC officials at the commencement of hearing Wednesday, included, manual for election officials 2015; INEC’s April 2, 2015 press statement making accreditation through use of card readers only mandatory for the governorship elections; and guidelines and regulations for the conduct of 2015 general elections.

In their testimony, the INEC officials said that “all documents tendered were duly certified by INEC, that the card reader has three (3) functions to with; identification of voters, verification of PVC holder and voter’s authentication on Election Day.”

Further, the tribunal was told that “the card readers recorded no sustained failure during the governorship election in delta state and accredited numbers of voters as at April 29th was 709,000 and at the expiration of the shutting down of data upload, the final tally was 715,393.”

But on April 13, Delta State INEC had put the figure of accredited voters at 1,017,796, exceeding actual accreditation number revealed by the admitted report obtained from INEC central server.

In Nigeria’s technology driven 2015 elections, INEC central server generated data real time from card readers across polling units. This was to detect malpractices, especially inflation of numbers.

Announcing Mr. Okowa as the winner of the election on April 13, the Returning Officer, Bio Nyananyo, said the PDP candidate polled 724,680 votes, which translated to 14,980 votes higher than actual number of accredited voters.

Admissibility of the documents and ordering of INEC staff to give testimony on the conduct of the election had been strongly objected by Mr. Okowa, but was dismissed by the tribunal.

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