The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt Thursday’s scheduled inspection of the Nov. 11, 2023 Kogi Governorship Election materials by the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The party also called for the removal and discipline of the Kogi INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Gabriel Longpet, for having been heavily compromised by the SDP and its candidate.
Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the spokesperson and director of media and publicity, APC Campaign Council, made the calls in a statement issued in Lokoja on Wednesday.
The party frowned at the readiness of INEC to allow the legal team of SDP to inspect the election materials in disregard for an alleged preliminary objection earlier raised by its (INEC’s) counsels before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
The party said: “We hereby call on the Chairman and Management of INEC to immediately halt any inspection of electoral materials used in the Nov. 11, 2023, governorship election in Kogi, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice filed by INEC and others to set the order of inspection aside.
“INEC should commence disciplinary processes against the REC, Dr Longpet, having been heavily compromised by the SDP and its candidate.
“This is because the message from the REC to INEC officials to appear for the inspection on Thursday, Jan. 4, is an admission of graft by him and a final nail on his fraudulent activities in the state.
“He (REC) has clearly misrepresented the integrity and legal interest of INEC. The commission should suspend or redeploy the REC from Kogi pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against him,” the party urged.
According to the APC, the appeals became imperative following clear moves by the REC to aid the SDP in compromising/tampering with and or destroying electoral materials used in the concluded Nov. 11, 2023, governorship elections in Kogi.
It alleged that the SDP and its candidate, Alhaji Murtala Ajaka, had obtained an Ex-parte Order of the Tribunal on Nov. 25, 2023, directing INEC to, among other things, allow an inspection of electoral materials used for the election to assist the SDP and its candidate institute and maintain a petition that at the time had not been filed.
“INEC was given only 48 hours to comply with the said orders, which include all forms, registers, result sheets, ballot papers, and BVAS machines.
“Upon being served with the order on Nov. 27, 2023, INEC filed a motion before the tribunal on Nov. 29, 2023, praying the court to set aside the said orders, contending that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to make the said orders and for other reasons such as apparent contradictions in the said ex parte order.
“That motion to set aside, dated and filed on 29/11/2023 is to our knowledge, still before the Tribunal as it has not been heard.
“It must also be noted that till date, the said order for inspection granted on 25/11/2023 has not been served on the winner of that election, Alhaji Usman Ododo, and the APC, who are listed as parties in the said Order of Court.
“Most importantly is the fact that the petition in respect of which the order of inspection was initially sought and granted was filed on Dec. 2, 2023, with the SDP and its candidate admitting at paragraph 92 of the contentious petition that INEC had given them documents contained in the order, which included Voters Register, BVAS accreditation reports, and Result Sheets.
“With the above background in mind, it is therefore shocking to learn that the REC of INEC in Kogi, who works for a body which has asked a court to set aside the ex parte order for inspection it made, is now organising an inspection exercise in Abuja for the SDP and its candidate, an exercise which is fully and financially sponsored by the SDP and its candidate,” the party further alleged.
APC, therefore, frowned at the messages the said REC sent out to affected staff of INEC in Kogi to show up in Abuja for the inspection of the election materials on Thursday.
“The messages no doubt show the desperation of the Kogi Resident Electoral Commissioner, who has been heavily compromised by the Social Democratic Party, its candidate, and their cohorts,” the APC submitted.
Reacting to the allegations, the Kogi INEC Head of Voters Education and Publicity (VEP), Mr Haruna Sule, expressed surprise over the allegations raised by APC, which he said were in agreement with the scheduled Jan. 4 inspection of the election materials.
“APC’s false allegations can’t hold water because the matter is beyond our Kogi office but that of the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.
”REC is acting based on instructions from the headquarters and shouldn’t be unjustly accused,” he said.