The Counsel to the All Progressives Congress in the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, Solomon Umoh, has stated that the four-day extension granted the APC forensic team to audit election materials used in the April 11 election was stalled by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Akwa Ibom election petition tribunal is currently sitting in Abuja.
The Tribunal had granted a four-day extension following an oral application by Mr. Umoh.
Mr. Umoh had complained that INEC did not give the party adequate time to inspect the election materials.
Before the extension was granted, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, the PDP and INEC, opposed the application on the grounds that the APC and its candidate did not rightly state the facts.
The petitioner had, however, complained that the forensic team has not been allowed to carry out its work since the last court order given on Wednesday July 22, that mandated that it should be given extra four days due to the delays caused by “the perennial non-compliance of INEC Uyo and the Sallah holidays”.
“The forensic team has been at the institute since July 23 to start work at 8am but the usual delay tactics are deployed as the Electoral Officer’s come late and the forensic team is not given access to the materials until after 11am. Then the forensic team is made to close at 6pm, giving them less than the eight hours per day required to work,” he said.
He said the apparent frustrations made it impossible to accomplish the “herculean” task of scanning thousands of ballot papers across the 31 local government areas in the state.
“What was even more mind-boggling was how the PDP that is a respondent and whose role in the forensic exercise is to primarily observe the process, was strangely given priority to determine how the process is carried out.
“It even gets worse as their role has been transformed from observers to conducting the forensics exercise alongside the petitioner”, he said.
The Counsel to the APC, governorship candidate in the Victor Iyanam, had also issued a statement earlier accusing the INEC of trying to sabotage proceedings at the tribunal.
He said officials of the commission deliberately allowed the ballot papers to be soaked with water making it difficult to be analysed.