The governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress in the March 9 election in Akwa Ibom, Mr. Nsima Ekere, says Independent National Electoral Commission is frustrating efforts to inspect electoral materials as ordered by the tribunal.
Lead Counsel to Ekere, Mr. Victor Iyanam, disclosed this at a news conference in Uyo on Tuesday.
He said INEC was playing the “Peoples Democratic Party’s script” by deliberately delaying the inspection of election materials with a view to killing time.
He said the tribunal order, issued on April 15 and mandating INEC to allow APC’s legal team to carry out the inspection, has not been obeyed by INEC.
According to him, INEC has continued to give the party flimsy excuses to delay the inspection and frustrate APC from achieving its objectives.
Iyanam said INEC, as an umpire, “should not be seen to play the script of PDP to cause unnecessary delay” since the tribunal has a time-frame to conclude its assignment.
“We are distressed by the delay, refusal and unwholesome excuses given by your office for non compliance.
“Some of the excuses include: non availability of the materials as a result of transport challenges in bringing them from local government areas, inadequate staff to carry out those duties and the claim that the INEC staff are busy with Senator Godswill Akpabio’s inspection.
“The excuses have variously continued to be untenable in the light of the short period of time to prove our case at the Election Petition Tribunal,” Iyanam said.
The lead counsel urged INEC to expedite action to enable the APC pursue and fulfill the order of the tribunal without any further delay.
Iyanam confirmed the readiness of Ekere’s legal team to press for contempt against INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state should there be further delay.
“INEC is supposed to be unbiased. We wonder why INEC is playing hide-and-seek, giving flimsy excuses to deny us access to the materials,” he said.
He said that the chances of Ekere winning at the tribunal is very bright, stressing that the APC has solid evidence to prove its case.
Iyanam added that the inspection of electoral materials would concretise evidence on ground.
Reacting, the Public Affairs Officer of INEC in the state, Mr. Don Etukudoh, said the allegation was baseless.
“Between last week Thursday and today, they had met with the INEC legal team only once and since then, there has been no communication again.
“They have not come back until today, so the allegations are baseless.
“Inspection is not an easy exercise; it is something that has to be sorted out.
“We have a schedule for the governorship, including even the National and State house of Assembly elections,” he said.