On Monday the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal witnessed a drama following the inability of Mr. Festus Ovie Agas, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), and Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, one of the star witnesses to the Delta State governor, to give coherent answers during cross-examinations in the ongoing election petition tribunal.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday led by Okowa’s counsel, Mr. Alex Iziyon and Mr. Festus Ovie Agas told the tribunal that the election results from the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) showed that Okowa scored the highest votes cast during the election to emerge as the winner of the poll in the State.
According to a visibly confused and off-balance Agas, the card reader worked perfectly for him during his accreditation, but there were a few instances where the card reader failed and the INEC officials were instructed by their superiors to resort to register voters through the use of manual accreditations.
Agas further admitted that the vote tally given to Governor Okowa during the election were bloated.
However, when Emerhor’s counsel, Mr. Thompson Okpoko, asked if Agas was aware of INEC's directive that when the card reader fails to work, elections should be postponed until the next day, Agas, still seemingly confused, could not give any coherent answer.
Agas, who had earlier told the court that he witnessed some units where the card reader rejected fake PVCs, contradicted himself further when Emerhor’s counsel ruffled him with questions about the card reader. Here, Agas stated that he was not an INEC staff and therefore could not say the PVCs rejected by the card reader were genuine or fake.
Meanwhile, there was a small panic inside the court when a former local government service commission chairwoman and strong supporter of Governor Okowa, Mrs. Nkem Okwuofu, known for her fetish beliefs and manipulations, entered the court with provocative clothing.
It was observed that shortly after the cross-examination of the SSG, Okwuofu, went home, changed her attire, and returned to the court. At this point murmuring ensued in the court room among supporters of the APC and PDP.
It could be recalled that during the testimony of two INEC officials including the Assistant Director of the ICT Department from Abuja headquarters, it was stated that "[a]ll documents tendered were duly certified by INEC, that the card reader has three (3) functions to [deal] with[:] identification of voters, verification of PVC holder and voter’s authentication on Election Day.”
They stated further that “[t]he card readers recorded no sustained failure during the governorship election in Delta State and accredited numbers of voters as [of] 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 announced Ifeanyi Okowa as the winner of the election and placed the figure of accredited voters at 1,017,796, exceeding the actual accreditation number revealed by the admitted report obtained from the INEC central server. The Returning Officer, Bio Nyananyo, said the PDP candidate actually polled 724,680 votes, meaning the first reported figure was 14,980 votes higher than the actual number of accredited votes.