The All Progressives Congress (APC) Kogi State chapter, on Wednesday evening, accused the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner of colluding with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate to tamper with, compromise, and destroy electoral materials used in the concluded November 11, 2023, Kogi Governorship Election.
This information was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday, signed by Kingsley Femi Fanwo, the Spokesperson/Director of Media and Publicity to the APC Kogi State Governor-elect.
The statement reads as follows: “Our attention has been drawn to moves by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Kogi State, Mr. Hale Gabriel Longpet, to assist the Social Democratic Party in compromising, tampering with, or destroying electoral materials used in the concluded November 11, 2023, Governorship Elections in Kogi State.
“It will be recalled that the Social Democratic Party and its Candidate obtained an Ex-parte Order of the Tribunal on the 25th day of November 2023, directing INEC to, among other things, allow an inspection of electoral materials used for the Governorship Election for the purpose of assisting the SDP and its Candidate institute and maintain a Petition, which at the time had not been filed. INEC was given only 48 hours to comply with the said orders, which include all forms, registers, result sheets, ballot papers, and BVAS machines.
“Upon being served with the Order on the 27th day of November 2023, INEC filed a Motion before the Tribunal on the 29th day of November 2023, praying the Court to set aside the said Orders, contending that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to make the said Orders and for other reasons such as apparent contradictions in the said Ex-parte Order. That Motion to set aside, dated and filed on 29/11/2023, is to our knowledge still before the Tribunal as it has not been heard.
“It must also be noted that, to date, the said Order for inspection granted on 25/11/2023 has not been served on the winner of that election, Alhaji Usman Ododo, and the APC who are listed as parties in the said Order of Court. Most importantly, the Petition in respect of which the order of inspection was initially sought and granted was filed on the 2nd of December 2023, with the SDP and its candidate admitting at paragraph 92 of the contentious Petition that INEC had given them documents contained in the Order, which included Voters Register, BVAS Accreditation Reports, and Result Sheets.
“With the above background in mind, It is, therefore, shocking to learn that the REC of INEC in Kogi State, who works for a body that has asked a Court to set aside the Ex-parte Order for inspection it made, is now organizing an inspection exercise in Abuja for the SDP and its Candidate, an exercise which is fully and financially sponsored by the SDP and its candidate. Specifically, the REC sent out the following messages to affected Staff of INEC in Kogi State: “Good evening everyone and compliments of the season. “I have just been contacted by the legal team of the SDP regarding the inspection of the election materials for the November 11th Governorship Election. “They said that they had communicated to the Commission that they would like to start the inspection with Adavi, Okehi, and Okene. “They are ready to be responsible for the logistics and accommodation of the EOs and the HOD EOPs and ICT who must be at the Inspection as directed. “Please convey this information to the affected officials. As for the logistics, Barrister Olowo who has been dealing with us will provide the funds. “Please ensure that all officers and HODs mentioned are in attendance for the inspection. Admin Sec. Co-ordinate. Thanks.” REC.
He mentioned that the message was followed up by another request sent at the instance of the REC as follows: “In line with the above, I have been directed to inform the HODs (Ops&ICT) HoU Logistics and Electoral officers of Adavi, Okehi, and Okene LGA to avail themselves at the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, on 4th Jan 2024, for the inspection, scheduled to hold by 9 am to 6 pm. “Please treat this as urgent.” HoD Legal Services For: REC
According to him, the above messages no doubt show the desperation of the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, who has been heavily compromised by the Social Democratic Party, its Candidate, and their cohorts. It is clear that the SDP and its Candidate, who claimed to have filed their Petition, have an ulterior motive regarding the election materials used for the conduct of the November 11 Governorship Election in Kogi State, and the REC Kogi State, who is on their payroll, is willing and ready to assist them to tamper with these materials.
“The REC, by the above message, is willing to compromise other staff of INEC by allowing the SDP to pay for their transportation, accommodation, and other logistics for an assignment that ought to be an official assignment. The Law that sets up and regulates the activities of INEC does not confer on INEC’s legal opponents to fund INEC’s official assignments.
“The above message from the REC has clearly shown that he is no umpire and that he is no longer worthy of the position of a REC as he has been heavily compromised even before this exercise, as he has an established financial relationship with the SDP and its candidate who have been dealing with him through the said Barrister Olowo.
“It is unfortunate that the REC in charge of Kogi State has decided to soil his hands in a case whose legality of filing is still in contention till date. He has clearly failed the test of impartiality and integrity and has clearly misrepresented the nobility of INEC.
“At this point, we call on the Chairman and Management of INEC to immediately halt any inspection of electoral materials used in the November 11, 2023, Governorship Election in Kogi State pending the determination of the Motion on Notice filed by INEC and others to set the Order of inspection aside.
“To commence disciplinary processes against the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kogi State, Mr. Longpet, having been heavily compromised by the SDP and its Candidate. The message from the REC is an admission of graft by him and a final nail in his fraudulent activities in the State. He has clearly misrepresented the integrity and legal interest of INEC. Suspend or redeploy the REC from Kogi State pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against him. End.”