The Resident Electoral Commisioner incharge of Rivers State Dame Gesilah Khan today through a documents submitted by Counsel to the Commision stated that the whole electoral Materials used during the conduct of the Rivers South East Senatorial District election was carted away immediately results were announced
The first respondent (INEC), through its counsel had brought to the tribunal a letter purportedly written by Dame Gesila Khan, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Rivers State, with a police extract as an attachment thereto, informing the tribunal the reason why she cannot bring the ballot papers used in Rivers South-East Senatorial District during the National Assembly election of the 28th of March, 2015.
In that letter dated 13th of April, 2015, the REC had purportedly stated that all the ballot papers used for the said election were stolen by unknown persons, and therefore, the INEC is no longer in a position to produce them in court. Attached to the letter was purported police extract confirming the theft.
The Petitioner’s counsel, Afolabi SAN, however vigorously objected to the letter on the grounds that it has been in existence since the 13th of April, 2015, even before the petitioner filed his petition. The counsel also stressed that at the time the first respondent responded to the petition of the petitioner, the letter was also in existence, yet, no mention or reference was made to it in the response.
He further argued that by virtue of paragraph 12 of the first schedule to the Electoral Act, the letter cannot be admitted into evidence at this stage of the trial.
Counsels to the first, second and third respondents objected to the argument of the Petitioner’s counsel and urged their Lordships to discountenance it on the ground that what determines admissibility of evidence is its relevance. Particularly, Okey Wali (SAN), counsel to the second respondent argued that the documents in question were subpoenaed at the instance of the petitioner, and therefore the petitioner can’t object to admitting same into evidence.
Afolabi (SAN) retorted that the subpoenaed documents were ballot papers and sensitive INEC documents, not a letter from the REC or police extract.
Delivering its ruling, the tribunal upheld the objection of the Petitioner’s counsel on the ground that the Police extract was not signed, and that the letter purportedly written by Gesila Khan was not which the first respondent counsel sought to tender was not a certified true copy.
The letter was therefore jettisoned, rejected and marked as inadmissible by the tribunal.
The effect of this ruling is that INEC cannot show any ballot papers as votes scored by Olaka Wogu in the National Assembly election of 28th of March, 2015.
Recall that INEC declared Sen.Olaka Wogu of the PDP,winner of the march 28th Senatorial Election in Rivers,and a paltry votes was allocated to Senator Magnus Abe of the APC