Kogi State All Progressives Congress Governorship Campaign Council has raised the alarm over alleged move by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state, Mr. Hale Gabriel Longpet, to aid the Social Democratic Party, SDP, to tamper with electoral materials used in the November 11, 2023 governorship election.
The alarm was raised on Wednesday in a statement by the council’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kingsley Femi Fanwo.
The council said it was shocking to learn that Longpet was, contrary to the position of INEC which he worked for, was organising 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.”
The council therefore called on INEC to stop 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.
It also called on INEC to begin disciplinary processes against the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kogi State, Mr. Longpet, “having been heavily compromised by the SDP and its candidate.”
The council called for the suspension or redeployment of the REC from Kogi State pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against him.
The statement by the council reads in full:
“1. Our attention has been drawn to moves by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Kogi State, Mr. Hale Gabriel Longpet to aid the Social Democratic Party in compromising/tampering with and or destroying electoral materials used in the concluded 11th November 2023 Governorship Elections in Kogi State.
“2. 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 includes all forms, registers, result sheets, ballot papers and BVAS machines.
“3. 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.
“4. It must also be noted that till 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 is the fact that 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.
“5. 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 which 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 compliment 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.
“6. The message was followed up by another request sent at the instance of the REC as follows:
“Inline 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 Headquarter, Abuja on 4th Jan, 2024 for the inspection, scheduled to hold by 9am to 6pm.
“Pls treat this as urgent”.
HoD Legal Services
The above messages no doubt shows 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 comprise other staff of INEC by allowing the SDP pay for their transportation, accommodation and other logistics for an assignment which ought to be an official assignment. The Law which set up and regulate the activities of INEC does not confer on INEC’s legal opponents to fund INEC’s official assignments.
“7. 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.
“8. It is unfortunate that the REC in charge of Kogi State has decided to soil his hands in a case which 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.
“9. At this point, we call on the Chairman and Management of INEC to immediately:
(a). 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.
(b). 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 on his fraudulent activities in the State. He has clearly misrepresented the integrity and legal interest of INEC.
(c). Suspend or redeploy the REC from Kogi State pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against him.”