By Clifford Ndujihe
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State, has arraigned one of the two university lecturers, who were allegedly involved in electoral offences during the 2019 polls.
Confirming the development, Odaro Aisien, HOD, Voter Education and Publicity, said the arraignment was in line with INEC’s determination to ensure that anyone entrusted with election responsibility is held accountable “for any offence deliberately committed to subvert the will of the electorate.
“The arraignment is a necessary step to stem the reign of impunity and bring sanity and probity to the electoral process in Nigeria.”
Aisien said in a statement: “In the course of preparations for the 2019 general election, the Commission had warned against acts capable of undermining the integrity of the electoral process.
“To fully underscore the seriousness of the warning, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (Mike Igini) met with stakeholders and repeatedly admonished election personnel at the various training centres, particularly academics, drawn from the university as collation/returning officers, to observe and maintain the highest ethical standards in the discharge of the sensitive duties assigned to them.”
“Regrettably,” INEC said, “two professors, who acted as collation/returning officers during the election, exhibited an uncanny bent to subvert the outcome of the election, contrary to the expressed will of the electorate.
“One of the lecturers altered already declared results at polling units and collated ward results in Form EC8B delivered to him by ward collation officers.
“He changed the outcome of the election by reducing the score of a leading candidate by a huge 5,000 votes and increasing the losing candidates’ score by the same margin without altering the overall total valid votes cast to avoid detection.”
INEC disclosed that the lecturer, who has now been arraigned, was exposed by the information trigger tracking system of the Electoral Operation Support centre, EOSC, fully activated throughout the election period.
It said the other lecturer, who would soon be arraigned, “declared election results collated not by him, but by undisclosed individuals who only handed them him to announce.
“He admitted to this fact in his own hand-written statement that he earlier signed even though he refused to come back to the Commission’s office for further debriefing to ascertain who delivered the prepared election results to him.”
In another disposition, the INEC said the lecturer stood as a witness against the commission at the Tribunal “to defend the same election results he did not collate, but were given to him by undisclosed persons.”
Aisien added: “Consequent upon the above, the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, upon the request of the State Office, set up a panel of investigation to deal with all cases of electoral offences involving both ad hoc and permanent staff, some of whom have been dismissed based on the findings of the panel.
“Rather, he threatened legal action against the commission through a letter dated August 26, 2020. All efforts to reach him through the university authorities also failed as he appears to be on the run.”