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Gombe tribunal orders INEC to allow forensic examination of election materials by APC

CHAIRMAN, Gombe State Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give necessary support to All Progressives Congress (APC) to enable it carry out forensic examination of election materials without delay.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Matthew Adewara, made the call yesterday in Gombe when counsel to the petitioners (APC), Ayoola Ajayi, called on the tribunal to prevail on INEC to allow the petitioners carry out a forensic inspection of election materials as directed.

The tribunal, having ordered for a forensic examination of ballot papers used for the April 11 governorship election, was surprised to hear that carrying out the order was becoming more and more difficult.

Ajayi, who told the tribunal that inspecting of election materials has become a difficult task due to lack of co-operation from INEC, said the electoral body was delaying the process despite paying the commission almost N11 million as fee for the exercise.

He said: “We have made a payment of nearly N11 million to inspect documents and carry out forensic examination. Earlier, INEC gave us some of the documents but not all. As I speak with you, we don’t have the voters’ register, which is very important in an election matter. Our men who are supposed to do the forensic examination were initially allowed to start work on Monday, July 6, 2015 before we understand there was a directive and the work had to stop. On Tuesday, our lawyers, party agents and witnesses were there but they were not allowed to do the inspection. All this is practically an attempt to place a clog in the wheel of justice.”

Ajayi admonished INEC to act as an independent arbiter and allow its work to progress because it was time-bound.

“INEC is an arbiter. The commission is independent; let it live up to its name. It is an umpire and should hold the balance between the parties. While the first and second respondents are not giving problems, why INEC? We are very disturbed about this,” he said.

Reacting to the allegation, lead counsel to INEC, Hassan Liman, said the commission has complied with all the directives of the tribunal and would continue to do so.

“INEC has complied with the orders of the tribunal. Out of the 13 volumes of papers the petitioners filed before the tribunal, 11 were given to them by INEC. So, I am surprised they are now complaining that INEC is not assisting them or not complying with the orders,” he said.
Liman said he would ensure that the latest order of the tribunal was carried out to the letter.

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