Thursday, 27 August 2015

RIVERS POLL: APC can’t scan ballot papers, Wike tells court

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, yesterday, challenged the legality of allowing the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress Party, APC, in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, to scan or photocopy the ballot papers used for the conduct of the April 11 governorship poll in the state.
Arguing before the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, Wike, through his lawyer, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, insisted that allowing Peterside and the APC to photocopy any of the sensitive election materials would pose a serious security risk to the people of Rivers State.

He urged the Justice Muazu Pindiga-led tribunal to refuse a fresh request by the APC and Peterside for their forensic experts to be allowed to scan and crop the ballot papers and other electoral materials used in Rivers State, to ease the inspection process.

“My lord, we vehemently oppose this application. The security risk that will arise from allowing the petitioners to scan and photocopy the election materials, especially the ballot papers is real. Granting this application will amount to permitting a private individual to keep a record of a public document.

“The inherent danger in that is that a private individual can put such document to any use, including identifying the pattern of voting and linking individual voters to the political party or candidate they voted for.

“This is absolutely contrary to all principles of democracy and the express provisions of the Electoral Act. It will certainly jeopardise confidentiality in the electoral process,” Wike contended.

Wike told the tribunal yesterday that the Court of Appeal, Abuja has already slated August 31, to begin hearing on the propriety or otherwise of allowing the petitioners, their lawyers, and forensic experts to have access to all the sensitive materials that were used for the poll, including the voters’ register.