Witnesses have told the Plateau state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal of the schemes executed by electoral officials and agents of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to allegedly robbed Senator Jeremiah Useni and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of victory at the polls.
More than 30 witnesses cutting across the three senatorial zones, which include Jos North, Wase, Kanam, and Qua’an Pan local government areas took turns to narrate how the elections were allegedly rigged in their various polling units, electoral wards, and local government areas in favour of the returned governor, Simon Bako Lalong and the ruling APC.
According to the witnesses, they alleged that methods deployed were: arbitrary change of results, wrong addition of figures, forging of signatures of the PDP agents and threatening PDP agents with death, if they refused to sign fake results, among others.
The PDP legal team assembled 21 witnesses, who all said they saw the election processes from start to finish in their various polling units.
Andrawus Semshak of Chigwang polling unit and Simdi Dafel of Dyis polling unit all in Pankshin LGA, in their testimonies in chief, pointed to various forms of irregularities ranging from over-voting, alterations of figures to voting without proper accreditation of voters.
Andrawus said he was threatened with death and forced to sign a defective result sheet.
The first and only woman so far to testify was Nendirmwa Sunday, from Vel also in Pankshin, who served as PDP agent during the governorship election.
She claimed the entries by INEC were contrary to what was witnessed on the day of the election.
“Despite my complaint that the card reader, which had accredited less than 200 voters, had developed a fault, and we should not waste our efforts on manual registration, INEC officers carried on with the rest of the voting by simply ticking names without the proper accreditation and allowing people to vote.
“I did lodge a verbal complaint to INEC officials but they did not give me any attention, so I kept it reserved for this day.”
Other witnesses, who also testified before the tribunal, were: Boniface Dafub from Yadat in Chip district and Dagong Peter of Kapil in Chip, all in Pankshin LGA.
While they alleged over-voting at their polling units, and the absence of security officers at the venue of the elections, Peter said he saw many ballot papers illegally brought to his polling unit.
When witnesses from Qua’an Pan local government area mounted the witness box, they reeled out a litany of electoral irregularities they had individually observed on the Election Day.
Yahaya Francis of Ungwan Dorowa polling unit of Kurgwi alleged over-voting, and use of a faulty card reader, stressing that he tried to get the votes recounted but was ignored.
Julius Augustine of Babban Padama, also in Kwande, posited that, “the alterations on INEC form EC8A result duplicate sheet were made after he had signed the initial results”.
Genesis Chavoel of Kayarda in Namu and Danladi Sabo Danglat of Ungwan Tofa in Kwande, all in Qua’an Pan LGA, alleged over-voting and manipulation of results to favour the APC.
However, a witness, Dasaam Mark, a trader who served as the PDP agent in Nkum polling unit, fought off the combined force of the three counsel representing INEC, Simon Bako Lalong and APC, who made very determined attempts to get him agree to results said to have been tampered with in his unit.
He told the tribunal, “I complained to INEC officials about the fake results being inserted on the result sheets but they refused to listen.
“How can they now expect me to read out altered figures which I can hardly see with my naked eyes? He asked.
“I cannot identify what they have inserted on the result sheets. There is a problem there”, he explained.
Mark maintained this stout posture until the counsels’ timing for cross examination expired.
The petitioners are expected to call more witnesses to testify before the tribunal daily except on Sundays when the tribunal does not sit.