Patrick Tonye-Cole, an APC candidate for governor in the recently completed election in Rivers State, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of failing to promptly disclose documents that are necessary for their case before the tribunal.
Tonye-Cole voiced concern about the electoral umpire allegedly refusing to disclose the materials used for the most recent elections so that they could pursue their case at the tribunal during a protest on Friday in Port Harcourt outside the state office of INEC.
Tonye-Cole claims that the demand became necessary after the deadline for legal proceedings related to the election.
He charged INEC with disobeying the court order directing APC to examine election-related materials.
The APC’s candidate for governor in Rivers State challenged INEC to make the records public if they believed the March 18 poll was free, fair, and credible.
In contrast, he threatened that if the documents were not made public, he, his party’s members, and supporters would occupy the INEC headquarters in the state on Monday.
“After two weeks, we asked that INEC release the CTC documents. They haven’t published a single CTC document in two weeks. Additionally, we need to draft a statement, appear in court, and get ready for a Tribunal.
“We’ve had judicial orders, but they’ve been disregarded. It indicates to me that something is happening. I’m not sure what it is, and I don’t want to think badly of INEC.
“I think that fairly speaking, the onus right now is on INEC as an impartial regulator. Please give us what we require so that we can file a lawsuit. Let’s state the case at the Tribunal.
“What do we do if you disclose documents to us a day before the Tribunal? We don’t come ready.
“We arrived here on Friday, but sadly nobody is in the office.” The REC assured me that something was going to happen on Monday after we spoke. We will therefore return on Monday,” Tonye-Cole said.
Iheanyichukwu Dike, the APC’s state legal adviser in Rivers State, and Bob-Emmanuel Ebinabo-Isa, the Accord Party’s House of Assembly candidate for the Akuku Toru state district, both questioned INEC’s delay in providing the necessary documents to the political parties who had been wronged.
They requested that INEC employees in Rivers State be summoned to order by the INEC national leadership and the federal government.
Except for Johnson Sinikiem, the Residents Electoral Commissioner, who replied to a phone call from an APC governorship candidate, no INEC representative physically visited the irate candidates and party members.
However, Sinikiem gave them the assurance that the candidates would have access to the necessary papers by Monday, April 3.