By Festus Ahon
ASABA—THE three-man election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, yesterday, rejected Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s subpoena Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, witness document exhibits.
Governor Okowa had on Monday opened his defence at the tribunal, following the petition by All Progressives Congress, APC’s candidate, Olorogun O’Tega Emerhor, challenging the governor’s victory at the April 11, 2015 election.
At the resumed hearing, Okowa’s third witness , Mrs. Mercy Ehikhametalo, an INEC staff, led in evidence by the lead counsel to the governor, Dr. Alex Izyion (SAN) , told the tribunal that the electoral guidelines were substantially complied with during the governorship election in the state.
Okowa had sought to tender four documents as exhibits through Mrs. Ehikhametalo, but was refused by the tribunal after counsel to Emerhor, Chief Thompson Okpokor, (SAN) strongly opposed the acceptance of the documents.
Among documents that were to be tendered were: (A) Certified True Copy (CTC) of Card Reader Uploaded statute as at, April 16, 2015; (B) CTC of unit accreditation report yet to be uploaded for the governorship election as of April 16, 2015; (C) the notification of the APC governorship primaries for December 2, 2014 and (D) the INEC report of the APC congress of December 4, 2015.
Objecting to the admissibility of documents A and B, Okpoko argued that they were computer generated, and that there was no evidence before the tribunal to show that the documents sought to be tendered were produced by the witness.
He averred that the documents did not meet the mandatory requirements of section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act and therefore could not be admitted and urged the tribunal to reject it.
Ehikhametaloh, in her testimony, told the tribunal that card readers were used during the election, noting that about 67.7 percent of data from the card reader was uploaded into the server in INEC’s Abuja head office before the server was shut down.
She also told the tribunal that INEC experienced some challenges with the use of the card readers during the elections, due to poor network from service providers.
The INEC staff said the card reader had pin cards from Abuja and could not be fraudulently manipulated, claiming that during network failure, the card reader could not upload data to INEC server in Abuja.
In a short ruling, chairman of the panel, Justice Nasiru Gunmi, said; “We have no doubt in our minds that the documents she seeks to tender were documents uploaded from the Card Reader servers, but there is no indication anywhere showing that the documents the witness seeks to tender were data generated by computer and she now used computer to type it.
“In view of the analysis above, we believe that our ruling of September 7 is not similar to this. We believe that the objections of Okpoko (SAN) to the admissibility of these documents are germane. We believe that the two documents are computer generated documents.There is nothing on the face of the document to show that it complied with section 84 of the evidence act. In view of this we hereby agree that the documents are not admissible and they are hereby rejected.”