Umuahia – The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia on Monday, commenced hearing of the petition against the declaration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia.
The petition was filed by Dr. Alex Otti, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the April general elections in the state,
Three witnesses, who worked as APGA collation agents during the election, namely Goodluck Ezebuiro (Umuahia North), Ferdinand Ajaegbu (Osisioma) and Chinyere Irechukwu, testified on Monday.
In their separate testimonies, they said that there were no elections in their areas during the general and supplementary elections in the state and that there were no results.
They said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not provide materials for the April 11 and April 25 polls, respectively.
They were separately cross-examined by Messrs Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Hagler Okorie, counsels to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, the Peoples Democratic Party and INEC, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the tribunal, Hon. Justice Usman Bwala, has ordered INEC to avail Otti with the right electoral materials for inspection.
Bwala’s order followed complaints by Otti’s lead Counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi, that INEC was colluding with PDP to frustrate the forensic inspection of electoral materials.
Olujinmi told the tribunal that INEC brought electoral materials used during the presidential as well as State and National Assemblies’ elections rather than the ones used for the governorship polls.
He said that the order granted to his client to inspect the materials did not indicate joint inspection with the first and second respondents and expressed regret that the respondents had been putting a clog in the process.
He said that the petitioners were contesting the election results from specific local government areas, including Obingwa, Osisioma, Ugwunagbo, Isalangwa North and Umuahia North and needed to inspect materials from those areas.
‘’When we requested for materials from Osisioma, INEC brought materials from Aba North and in collusion with PDP, insisted that we should go ahead with the ones that were available.
‘’They are stalling the process and wasting the time allotted by the tribunal for the inspection,’’ Olujinmi said.
But counsels to Ikpeazu and INEC, Okorie and Mr Chubuike Nwokeukwu, denied the allegation of collusion.
They said that the participation of Ikpeazu and PDP’s counsels in the inspection was in line with the tribunal’s order for joint inspection of the materials. (NAN)