INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega
A tribunal hearing petitions on the recent National and State Assembly elections in Bayelsa State has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release ballot documents to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) for inspection and analysis. These documents are provided so the AD can substantiate its claim that the State Assembly elections were rigged. Justice C. A. Ononeze Madu, who is the Chairperson of the tribunal, gave the order yesterday in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, while ruling on a petition filed by Victor-Ben Eredei, a State Assembly candidate of the Alliance of Democracy (AD).
Ruling on an ex parte motion, moved by the plaintiff’s counsel, M.J. Numa, Justice Madu ordered INEC to release all relevant polling materials to the AD candidate. The affected documents include ballot papers and the electronic print outs from a database of accredited voters obtained through the card readers used in the affected constituency. Earlier, Mr. Numa, counsel to the AD State Assembly candidate for the southern Ijaw constituency 4 in Bayelsa State, pleaded with the tribunal to compel INEC to allow the party to inspect the election materials used for the conduct of the April 11 State Assembly election in the constituency.
INEC had declared Kombowei Benson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the April 11 election in the constituency. The outcome announced by the Electoral Commission immediately sparked allegations that the election had not held, but that the exercise was marked by violence and intimidation of voters.
The announced winner, Mr. Benson, is the current Speaker of the State Assembly.