by Adebayo Hassan
Except the five governorship candidates challenging the credibility of the April 11 governorship election in Rivers withdraw their cases from the election petition tribunal or fail to present material evidence like the one exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, who was returned winner of the election, is as good as gone.
Mr. Wike may need a miracle to come out of the election petition tribunal victorious.
The evidence against the legitimacy of the election that returned him winner is too damning and overwhelming, this newspaper can authoritatively report today.
The Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers awarded Mr. Wike votes almost five times higher than the actual, authentic total number of voters accredited with card readers and Permanent Voter Cards which was 292, 878, PREMIUM TIMES investigation has revealed.
First and Last page of PVC accreditation in Rivers 2015 governorship election.
INEC official announced figures for the Rivers 2015 governorship election
According to the result declared by the Returning Officer for Rivers State, Osasere Orumwense on April 13, Mr. Wike was awarded 1,029,102 votes, representing 87.77 per cent of 1,228,614, being the conjured number of total accredited voters.
However, according to a bulky 94-page INEC endorsed document exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the total number of accredited voters for the April 11 guber election in Rivers was 292, 878.
The document was signed by Ibrahim Bawa, the acting director in charge of INEC Legal Unit and Abimbola Oladunjoye, head of unit, Data Management, of the Commission’s Information Communication Technology Department.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES indicate that it is practically impossible for Mr. Wike or any other candidate in the election to garner votes exceeding the total number of accredited voters, not to talk of amassing such hyper-inflated figure of 1,029,102 awarded Mr. Wike.
In Nigeria’s current electoral system, INEC’s central server automatically generates figures of voters accredited with the electronic Smart Card Readers and Permanent Voters’ Cards across the polling units.
INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, said before the election that the arrangement was to prevent electoral fraud, especially falsification of number of accredited voters, to inflate number of votes cast, as in the case of PDP and Mr. Wike, and of course INEC in Rivers State.
Insiders in INEC told PREMIUM TIMES that the number of accredited voters generated by the commission’s central server is the valid, actual and authentic one for the Rivers State April 11 elections and that it would impossible for anyone to justify the excess votes allocated to Mr. Wike.
In the document, detailing polling unit by polling unit analysis of actual voters’ accreditation for the election, none of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) had up to 51, 000 accredited voters.
Rivers State is currently delineated into 319 Registration Areas (Wards) and 4,442 polling units.
Port Harcourt LGA had the highest number of accredited voters with 50, 962, while Khana LGA had just 145 registered voters turning up for accreditation.
Our LGA by LGA analysis of the accredited votes shows that Obio/Akpor had 40,481 accredited voters and it was the only LGA with more than 40,000 but lower than 50,000.
Ogba/Egbema/Ndonu LGA had 24,816 accredited voters, while Ikwere LGA had 22,274.
Seven LGAs had between 10,000 and 20,000 accredited voters, according to the INEC endorsed document. They are Ahoada East (16,116 accredited voters); Ahoada West (16,369); Bonny (15,503); Degema (16,993); Akuku-Toru (12,439); Andoni (13,530); and Gokana (12,127).
Others were Asari-Toru (7,328); Emohua (5,014); Okrika (8,790); Opobo Nekoro (7,313); and Oyingbo (9,503); Abual-Odual (2,054); Omuma (1,998); Etche (1,268); Eleme (3,530); Khana (145); Ogu/Bolo (903); and Tai (3,362).
INEC insiders said the only ground that could explain the number of accredited voters in the election exceeding 292,887 is if manual accreditation were used in addition to the use of card readers.
But INEC did not approve the use of manual accreditation for governorship election in any of the states of the Federation.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission wishes to inform all Nigerians that Card Readers will be used for the April 11, 2015 Elections,” Augusta Ogakwu, Secretary to the Commission, said in a statement on April 6.
On Friday, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that manual accreditation was not employed in any state for the April 11 elections.
The petitioners challenging Mr. Wike’s purported victory at the election petition tribunal are Kemka Elenwo, KOWA party; Dakuku Peterside, All Progressives Congress; Charles Harry, All Progressives Grand Alliance; and Minaibim Harry, Social Democratic Party.
Election observers, including the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria’s 2015 elections, had condemned the elections in Rivers State, alleging violence and irregularities.