The Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Enugu Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to rely on the certified true copies of BVAS data tendered by the candidate of the Labour Party to decide on the issue of alleged overvoting said to have taken place in Nkanu East Local Government Area during the March 18 governorship elections in the state.
INEC, which failed to bring some of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Systems (BiVAS) machines used for Owoh and Ugbawka areas in Nkanu East, contrary to what was contained in the subpoena issued by the Tribunal on Saturday, asked that the copies of the commission had availed Labour Party and which have been tendered before the court as be taken as valid evidence.
Edeoga, who closed his case at the tribunal on Sunday, had petitioned the Chairman of INEC, accusing the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, of refusing to heed entreaties to allow a forensic examination of the BiVAS machines, in disregard to a lawfully issued subpoena.
Following series of attempts to circumvent the subpoena issued on June 26, 2023, the tribunal issued an oral subpoena on Saturday, forcing INEC to appear on Sunday with the BiVAS machines.
No reason was given by the official that represented INEC at the court who gave his name as Mr. Eze Okafor, for failing to tender the 10 BiVAS machines as demanded by the tribunal, leaving the tribunal to rely on the evidence supplied by the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga to decide whether there was overvoting in the affected areas.
INEC arrived at the tribunal as early as 9.00 am on Sunday, with only five BiVAS machines said to have been used to accredit voters in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area, but even the ones tendered were either empty or clocked, a situation that prevented the forensic expert from conducting any examination of the machines as earlier expected.
Labour Party had, in its petition, alleged that the votes tally for Nkanu was raised from about 15,000 accredited voters to 32,000 votes, representing a hike of more than 16,000 votes. The Electoral Act provides for the cancellation of votes in areas where such cases of overvoting are established.
Chijioke Edeoga had approached the tribunal seeking redress, following the declaration of Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the March 18, 2023, Governorship Elections in the state.
Edeoga, in his petition laid out five grounds to justify why he was the validly elected candidate.
Among the grounds contained in his petition include the alleged forgery of the NYSC discharge certificate, as well as alleged cases of suppression of votes in Udenu and Enugu South Local Government Areas.
Others include alleged cases of overvoting in some electoral areas in Nkanu East Local Government Area and other forms of discrepancies in Igbo Eze North Local Council.