By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKAâ€” THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has admitted before the five-member Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka that the total votes recorded for the candidate ofÂ Action Congress, AC, in the 6 February gubernatorial election, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, was inflated by 10,000 votes.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Josaiah Uwazuruonye, a lawyer, made the confession yesterday while testifying at the tribunal.
The INEC REC explained: â€œWhen the APGA state agent made the allegation that 10,000 unmerited votes were awarded to AC and that it was done by the Electoral Officer for Idemili-South Local Government Area, there and then, I called the Electoral Officer and asked the man (the APGA agent) to repeat his allegation which he did.
Electoral Officer cried
â€œI asked the Electoral Officer to respond to the allegation. She started crying and said it was error in calculation.â€
Uwazuruonye, who was giving evidence under cross examination by Chief George Enekwechi, counsel to Chief Victor Anigbata, who was candidate of the National Solidarity Democratic Party, NSDP, in the election, also told the tribunal that in calculating the percentage of the scores received by candidates in the local government areas to determine their spread, â€œrejected or invalidâ€ votes were not counted.
Led in evidence by the counsel to INEC, Chief J.T. Nnorom, SAN, the Resident Electoral Commissioner said it was only the total valid votes received by the candidates that formed the basis for calculating the percentage of votes scored by candidates in the local government areas.
Electoral Act 2006
Although he admitted that the 10,000 inflated votes for the AC candidate in the total score recorded for him in Idemili South Local Government area was detected before he declared the result of the gubernatorial election on 7 February 2010, he said he was encumbered from effecting the correction by Section 69 of the Electoral Act, 2006.
This was because the inflation was done at the local government collation centre by the returning officer, while it was detected at the state collation centre, following complaint made by the APGA state agent, Chief Mike Areh.
The REC said all the local government Returning Officers announced results of their respective local governments at the state collation centre, while he only recorded the figures as they announced them.