–      As INEC Fails To Field Witness

Barr Ihezuo, candidate of the All Progressive Congress APC, for Orlu State Constituency in the March, 18, 2023 election opened his defence at the Election Petition Tribunal in Mararaba, Nasarawa State on Tuesday, August, 1st, 2023.

However, a mild drama played out in court, when one of the two witnesses he fielded not only confirmed that there was over voting as alleged by the plaintiff but also got himself trapped in a web of inconsistencies.

The witness who claimed to be a Polling Agent at Booth 6 in Owerri Ebeiri Ward was later found out to be just a voter in booth 9. When asked the number of registered voters in the unit, he said it was 700, while the BVAS recorded 70, thereby confirming that there was massive over voting.

It was also discovered that the name with which he identified himself was different from that of the person who signed as the Polling Agent.

The second witness fielded by Ihezuo who claimed to be a Local Government Area Collation Agent, also acknowledged that election did not hold in 5 wards of Orsu clan.

However, a source in Abuja told our news desk that Ihezuo was supposed to give his evidence in chief yesterday but that was called off because of the NLC protest that made the court to shut down its activities. As at the time of filing this report, no date has been fixed for the matter.

Recall, that the Labour Party candidate, Comrade Precious Nwadike, who is the plaintiff in the suit marked EPT/IMO/SHA/30/2023, had told the Honourable Court to declare him winner of the said election on the ground that his opponent was not qualified to contest, in view of his alleged criminal record.

Nwadike, stated this when he appeared in court to give his evidence in Chief and corroborate what had already been pleaded by his lawyer, Barr G.C Opara.

The acclaimed fire brand human rights activist insisted that “the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the second respondent, the APC and the third respondent, Ihezuo had connived to rob him of his mandate, and urged the court to declare him winner of the election”.

He further averred that the election was marred by violence in the areas where he has strong hold because operatives of the state owned Ebubeagu Security Network were used to harass, intimidate and disperse eligible voters who came out in their numbers to perform their civic duly.

This, he said resulted in most of his supporters sustaining various degrees of injuries.

Nwadike, also posited that the declaration of the third respondent as winner of the election is at variance with the BVAS report.

He also informed the court that after the election had been conducted, his opponent went and started mutilating records of the election. He, on his premise, urged the court to declare him winner of the election in the interest of justice.