Alleged contempt: LP reports Enugu REC to governorship tribunal


The Labour Party, LP, on Thursday accused the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Chukwuemeka Chukwu of disobeying a valid order of the governorship election tribunal.

LP made the allegation through its lead counsel, Valerie Azinge, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, during the Tribunal’s sitting on Thursday.

The party and its candidate, Barr Chijioke Edeoga is in court challenging the election of Barr Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The Tribunal had ordered INEC to allow the LP access to the BVAS machines used for the governorship election.

However, Azinge told the Tribunal that every effort by the party to inspect the BVAS machines had been frustrated by the REC in disobedience to the court order.

In a short ruling, the Tribunal led by Justice K. M. Akano asked the petitioners to use their discretion and do the needful.

Speaking to journalists after the Tribunal’s sitting, Azinge was asked what her discretion would be.

She responded: “you will definitely know my answer in a few days time.”

Also speaking, one of the counsels in Edeoga’s legal team, Barr Ifeanyi Ogenyi said the INEC has refused to respect the Tribunal.

He said the order was made on March 29 “and we served the order on 30th of March.”

He said a letter was also written to the INEC National Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu all to no avail.

“Since then, they have not allowed us. We brought it to the attention of the court, because yesterday we went there again but the REC brought PDP members, they said we can’t touch the BVAS, that we can only look at it.

“But we told them that our forensic expert has to analyse it; even the INEC counsel, Hyacinth Okoli explained to them, but they refused to listen.

“We went again today, the same thing played out. The same PDP members came that we can’t touch the BVAS.”

Ogenyi further revealed that the Tribunal has issued a subpoena that the REC should bring the BVAS to the court.

“The subpoena was served through their lawyer. We expect that the REC should honour the subpoena and appear before the Tribunal. INEC is a government institution, it must obey court order,” he said.

It could be recalled that Edeoga had earlier in a petition he personally sent to the INEC national chairman, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, lamented that the REC refused to allow his legal team and experts access to vital electoral materials despite being directed to do so by the Tribunal.

The letter, which was dated June 26, 2023, and received by INEC on July 3, 2023, reminded the INEC boss that the tribunal had fixed the hearing of the petition for July 7, 2023, urging the electoral umpire to allow them access to the machines.

However, according to Edeoga, following the alleged refusal of REC to grant the access, a fresh letter was issued on Monday, July 6, 2023, reminding the INEC Chairman of the need to have access to the materials.

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