The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet, in a statement, said the INEC state headquarters in Lokoja was besieged Wednesday morning by a mob that barricaded all entrances to the office and prevented officials’ access to carry out their routine duties.
“The siege also prevented Attorneys representing political parties involved in the recent off-cycle governorship elections from inspecting documents/materials used in the election”, he said.
The REC assured all the parties in the litigants that the state office of INEC is committed to granting unimpeded access to all materials to prosecute their petition.
Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to trade words on who “sponsored” the mob that laid siege on the ONEC office.
The SDP had alleged that thugs sponsored by the ruling party invaded the electoral umpire’s office to disrupt the ongoing examination of documents and materials used in the November 11 gubernatorial Elections.
The spokesman of Muri-Sam Governorship Campaign Council of the SDP, Faruk Adejoh-Audu said that the sponsored thugs wearing SDP T-shirts and posters have also been detailed to attack and sack the INEC office to ensure the materials needed for the party to prosecute its petition at the tribunal are compromised.
“They are chanting war slogans claiming they are “SDP members” who are against the movement of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) Machines to Abuja for security reasons and the forensic examination of electoral documents”, he said.
However, the Spokesperson/Director of Media and Publicity of the APC campaign, Kingsley Femi Fanwo described the allegation as baseless.
“The laughable story of the SDP that the thugs were hired by our party is no deviation from their culture of terrible and senseless propaganda and strategy to blame everyone else for their actions.
“Today’s failed attack by supporters and thugs of the SDP to attack the State INEC Office in Lokoja has confirmed our recent alarm that the party is determined to destroy every relevant government institution just to maintain their false claim to popularity”, he said.
Consequently, the Kogi State Governorship Tribunal sitting in Lokoja has adjourned its sitting indefinitely, pending the completion of the inspection of the election materials as ordered by the tribunal.
Recall that in its last sitting, the tribunal had ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certified copies of electoral materials of the off-cycle election in the state held on November 11 to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) within 48 hours.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu gave the order following two ex-parte motions filed on November 19 by the SDP and its governorship candidate, Muritala Ajaka.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, counsel to the petitioners, John Adele (SAN), reported that INEC was cooperating with the inspection of materials as granted by the order of the Tribunal, but sought for more time for the exercise.
The materials being inspected include the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and result sheets for Adavi, Okene, Okehi, Ogori-Magongo, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Kogi, and Bassa Local Government Areas.
The SDP and its candidate are challenging the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Usman Ododo at the election petition tribunal.
In the said gubernatorial election, the electoral umpire had declared Ododo the winner with 446,237 votes, while his closest rival, Ajaka received 259,052 votes.