In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Godswill Akpabio’s plans to pre-determine the gubernatorial and state assembly elections ran into troubled waters on Tuesday as a printer, Mr Emmanuel Edoho, the CEO of Leats Concept Ltd and a PDP stalwart, was arrested by state security operatives in Eket.
A team of security operatives from the Akwa Ibom Command of State Security Services sealed off the premises of a printing press where ballot papers of the State Assembly and Governorship elections were being printed.
The team, acting on a tip off, stormed the printing outfit, which is located at 48 Afaha Uqua Road in the town, and searched the place. It removed the printing plates and some of the printed ballot papers as well as others still under processing. The ballot papers are for the State Assembly and Governorship Elections scheduled for April 26.
Although the proprietor of the press is a PDP stalwart involved with the party’s electioneering campaigns and election duties, it could not be immediately ascertained who had placed printing order for the ballot papers with the printer.
SaharaReporters gathered that the armed SSS team which arrived in the premises in a Peugeot Multipurpose Vehicle and a Toyota Hilux with registration numbers AG 654 UYY and AP 586 UYY respectively, arrested one Etuk Akpan, who was identified as the manager of the printing outfit.
The SSS team also conducted searches on the residence of the proprietor of the printing firm in Eket and took away some exhibits.
A visit to the printing press on Tuesday showed that the press was in a lockdown mode while some members of staff who had taken to their heels when the security men invaded the place regrouped in the area to discuss the incident.
Our sources at the SSS state headquarters in Uyo confirmed receiving the report from the Eket Field Office but declined comments, saying they were yet to get a report from the team that undertook the operation.
“We got a report and dispatched a team to the field and we are yet to get a report and feedback from them and it will be premature to make any comments at this time when investigations are at the early stages,” an official said.
SaharaReporters had identified Akwa Ibom, Imo, Benue, Kwara and Delta States as trouble spots where election results underwent manipulation during last week’s parliamentary elections. Today INEC officials stated that some of the elections in those states remain inconclusive. They also named Imo, Bayelsa and Delta as states in which 117 ballot boxes were stolen during Saturday’s legislative elections.
INEC Claims Ownership Of Presidential Ballot Papers Found With Abuja Printers; Says They Were “Dummy” Ballots
By SaharaReporters, New York
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has claimed ownership of the ballot papers found with an Abuja printer yesterday by the police, as reported by SaharaReporters, but that they are only “dummy presidential ballot papers”.
The spokesperson to the INEC chairperson, Mr. Kayode Idowu, told SaharaReporters over the phone today that the ballot papers were designed by the commission in line with “Section 60” of the Electoral Law to “fool” troublemakers at polling booths if they show up to vote without legitimacy.
He said such person(s) would then be handed “dummy” ballot papers to vote and move on without disrupting the election.
Section 60 of the Electoral Law provides as follows:
60. -(1) If a person claiming to be entitled to vote applies for a ballot paper after some other person has voted in the name given by the claimant he shall, upon satisfactory answers given to any questions put to him by a poll clerk be
entitled to receive a ballot paper in the same manner as any other voter; but
the ballot paper (in this Act referred to as “the tendered ballot paper”) shall be
of a colour different from the ordinary ballot papers.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall require the voter to deliver the tendered ballot
paper to him instead of allowing it to be put in the ballot box, and the Presiding Officer shall endorse on it the name of the voter and his number in the register of voters.
(3) The ballot paper shall on delivery to the Presiding Officer and in the view of all present be set aside by the Presiding Officer in a packet intended for
tendered votes and the tendered ballot paper shall be counted by the Returning Officer.
(4) The Presiding Officer shall, when he tenders a ballot paper under this
section, enter the name of the voter and his number in the register of voters on the list to be called tendered vote list and the tendered
It is to be noted that the ballots provided for by the Electoral Law in this section are referred to as “tendered ballot papers” and are meant for the use of the Presiding Officer at the polls where someone else has already voted in the name of a claimant, not necessarily “troublemakers” needing to be “fooled” by INEC. They are of a different colour from the ordinary ballot papers.
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) yesterday raised an alarm about the ballot papers, which were discovered by the police in Utako area of Abuja. It said two men, Akinlolu Akinto and Habila Stephen, were caught by the police with 100,000 ballot papers loaded into a van, leading to an investigation in which another one million ballots were discovered.
CPC officials said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) had resisted initial attempts by higher up to release the contractors until the search of their printing press and subsequent discover of the 1 million presidential ballots. The DPO then handed over the suspects to the Federal Capital Territory command of the Police Force. Overnight, however, the men were released, as INEC claimed ownership of the ballot papers.
Opposition members said they raised alarm because the printing press belongs to the brother of the deputy chairman of the People’s Democratic Party and that they had engaged in bringing illegal ballot papers that were used in rigging elections in Kebbi State last Saturday.
Mr. Idowu denied any knowledge of the already thumb-printed papers reportedly found by the police. He stressed that INEC was “absolutely” prepared for Saturday’s pivotal presidential polls.