The Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Cross River State is set to challenge INEC’s declaration of Prince Bassey Edet Otu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as governor-elect at Election Petition Tribunal (EPT).
As they prepare for the Tribunal, they have also alleged that Prof Ben Ayade, the state governor, and the INEC have as a result, rushed to tamper with the election result papers.
PDP has claimed that Ayade and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Professor Gabriel Yomere, and other INEC collation officers have tampered with original results sheets and manipulated BVAS machines used for the Governorship and state House of Assembly elections on March-18, 2023.
Addressing newsmen in Calabar over the allegations, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Gabriel Yomere said, “There is no truth in the allegations that I held a meeting with the governor and his team in order to reconcile and manipulate the electoral materials used for the gubernatorial election.
“The last time I met with the governor was shortly before Christmas and I went with my team. That was shortly before I travelled for Christmas.
“Even if I succeed in manipulating the BVAS, what about the backend at the INEC portal? You can’t manipulate that.
“The only people allowed to check the BVAS are the lawyers to the political parties and they do that in the presence of INEC staff.”
There have been speculations that the governor, the REC and some collation officers have held meetings on how to reconcile the irregularities in the last governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.
One of our sources said, “Ayade and the INEC REC are particularly worried at the issue of over voting and some irreconcilable differences recorded at the polling units and the number of votes declared from the polling units.
The sources further revealed that, “They had a meeting on Saturday night trying to come up with modalities on how they can look at declared results in each local government to tally with hurriedly declared results especially where they have over voting.”
PDP State Publicity Secretary, Mike Ojisi, expressed worry and called for genuine efforts to protect the election materials from deliberate manipulation.
“After a series of meetings, arrangements have been concluded between the REC, the electoral officers (EOs) of each LG, and the Returning Officers, to bring out all the BVAS within each polling unit across the state that have over voting in the just concluded elections.
“With the BVAS, they would be able to thumbprint additional ballots papers to balance the votes and the number of persons that were accredited in each of the polling units across the state.
“The governor has concluded the arrangements for this and it will commence today.
“We call on stakeholders and relevant agencies to demand for the original results sheets used in announcing the results from REC before they temper with it,” Ojisi explained.
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