From Esther Akaa, Lafia
The Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Thursday admitted 207 Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines and the certified true copies of BVAS screenshot print-outs as evidence showing accreditation of voters for the 18th March, 2023 Governorship Election in the Polling Units in Ashige Ward of Lafia Local Government Area ( LGA) of the state.
The BVAS machines and accreditation screenshot print-outs were produced at the tribunal by a representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the subpoena issued recently to INEC by the tribunal upon the application of the petitioners.
At the court proceedings held in Lafia, the subpoenaed witness designated as PW7 who was summoned to produce 218 BVAS Machines, screenshots of each of the BVAS machines used during the election presented only 207 of the evidence mentioned.
The subpoenaed witness who was led by the lead counsel to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) , Samuel Jibril Okutekpa (SAN), however explained that out of the 11 BVAS machines that were not produced , 3 of the units namely; Ashige Ward 03 , Chiroma 084 , and 097 had no registered voters.
He explained that the 8 others were areas where the BVAS machines were snatched during the election.
Okutekpa ( SAN), therefore applied that after cross examinations by both counsels to Governor Abdullahi Sule, All Progressives Congress ( APC) and INEC, the physical machines be returned to INEC office since the contents were certified in the court.
Other witnesses who testified during the proceedings were the Petitioners’ agent for Chiroma Ward and Lafia LGA agent for the 2023 Nasarawa State Governorship Election.
The PDP Lafia LGA Agent designated as PW17 told the Court that he refused to sign the Lafia LGA result summary sheet (Form EC8C) because the scores transferred from the forms EC8Bs (Ward summaries) were not a correct summation of the votes scored by the candidates at the Polling Unit level .
He explained the Polling Unit results (Forms EC8As) corresponds with the I-ReV copies as admitted in evidence before the court.
During their separate cross examinations, counsel to the Governor, Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), counsel to the All Progressives Congress ( APC), Matthew Burkaa and Counsel to Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), Ishaku Dikko, rejected the evidence of the INEC, saying that the BVAS machines and other evidence presented by INEC should not be allowed in the court.
The evidence were however admitted in court by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ezekiel Oyeyemi Ajayi.
He adjourned the sitting to Friday July 28, 2023 for continuation of hearing.
It would be recalled that the governorship candidate of the PDP, Dr. David Ombugadu who is the petitioner in the case, had approached the court over alleged irregularities during the election which led to the declaration of the incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Sule as winner of the poll.