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Rivers Election Petition: APC pulls out of inspection process

The All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate during the governorship election in Rivers State, Dakuku Peterside, and other petitioners at the
State Election Petition Tribunal have boycotted the inspection of election materials used in the last general election
in the state.
Consequently, the planned inspection of electoral materials used for Governorship and state house of assembly April 11th 2015 general election, as directed by the election tribunal sitting in Abuja, suffered a setback.
Those present at the planned inspection process were INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Dame Gesila Khan, the External Solicitor, governor Nyesom Wike’s team of solicitors led by Dan Okoh (SAN), his agents and the solicitor to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking with newsmen at the INEC Headquarters in Port Harcourt, the external solicitor to the INEC Commissioner, Julius Mba, stated that parties involved in the case had, in their meeting on September 1, 2015, agreed to
participate in the inspection of the election materials slated for 9 am yesterday, and wondered why they shunned the exercise.
He pointed out that the inspection of the materials
was in compliance with the order given by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on June 11, and re-affirmed by the same tribunal in a later sitting, that
INEC should allow the petitioners access to the materials.
The INEC’s external solicitor said the petitioners had been allowed to inspect the materials in the
Commission’s obedience to the order of the tribunal by making available the documents.
He said: “INEC in due compliance with the tribunal order of June 11, 2015, obeyed; but, the petitioners
are not available. It is our documents, we cannot inspect them; they are to inspect them.
“We are surprised that after agreeing in our meeting
yesterday, to meet by 9am today (Wednesday), to inspect the materials used in the April 11, 2015 election, none of the petitioners, their solicitors or
agents is present. We would not mind to stay throughout today or even tomorrow, to wait for them.”
“We, the Commission, being entrusted to conduct the said election in question, have played our role. We are not supporting any party. Our position is clear; we are not taking side”, he said.
Reacting to the statement, counsel to APC, Henry
Odili, stated that INEC had denied them access to, “photocopy, inspect and scan all the materials” used for the election, as granted by the tribunal.
Odili said INEC refused to obey the first order by the tribunal and wondered why the Commission would be playing to the gallery.
In the same vein, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Chris Finebone accused the INEC in Rivers State of violating the order of the tribunal.
Finebone said, “We would like to urge INEC to quickly regain its sense of reasoning and do the right thing without further delay.
On his part, citing the ruling on the last application by the petitioners, counsel to the PDP, Erastus Awortu maintained that the tribunal never gave room for forensic inspection in its last ruling.