From Citizen Reporter, Awka
It was drama, tense moments and cross arguments as substantive hearing formally went into full gear in at the Awka Tribunal in a petition filed by defeated APGA senatorial candidate in the April 2011 National Assembly , Dora Akunyili open her case against Dr Chris Ngige, Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Power, by calling four witnesses.
Although the case was called up to begin hearing yesterday, the single witness that was called up to the box merely adopted her written statement and there was no cross examination.
The 3-man panel tribunal headed by Hon Justice P.O. Onajite-Kuejuboja which resumed sitting at exactly 9.00am invited the 1st petition to continue her case cross examination of Witness DD, one Miss Rita Nwafor of Okpulu Orji Village , Abba Town in Njikoka Ward 1.
Highlights of today’s proceedings includes a contradiction between the claim by Witness ‘AA’, Miss Chikaodili Ifeoma Nonyelu to have served as APGA agent in the Senatorial Election re-run of April 26, 2011 and the fact that her name was not contained in the INEC’s certified true copy of list of agents for Enugwu Ukwu Ward 1, including Ebe Enuagu Code 003
Miss Nonyelu had sworn in her written deposition “My real name is contained in the list of APGA agents submitted to the 2NDRespondent (INEC) for the election.
However in the certified True Copy which was admitted by the Tribunal as an exhibit and which Miss Nonyelu was made to read in person, the name of the APGA agent for Ebe Enuagu Hall Polling Unit Code 003 was Obiora Okafor whose photograph was displayed on page 22 of the certified list.
Answering questions, from Emeka Ngige SAN, Counsel to Senator Ngige, Nonyelu who was rather tensed up admitted that apart from being a business woman which she told the court was her profession, she is also the Personal Assistant (PA) to Prof Mrs Akunyili.
She said she was molested by ACN thugs and kept at a distance form the polling table where the electoral officials sat unlike all other agents for other political parties ,but stood by her written testimony that she was still able to observe that two booklets containing 100 ballot papers each was given to the CAN agents to thumb-print.
However when Counsel for INEC O J Nnadi, SAN sought to know how she knew that the ballot papers were for Senatorial election and not for the State Assembly elections held on the same day, she said : I don’t know”
Nonyelu also said “I cannot remember” when Nnadi asked here to tell the court, which party won the State Assembly election held on the same say in the polling booth.
Under Cross examination by INEC Witness DD, Miss Rita Nwafor who claimed to be a teacher, and a voter in Central Primary School Polling Unit Code 003 Abba, admiiteed that it was political party agents who informed her that there were no results sheets for recording of votes on the April 9, 2011 senatorial elections.
Miss Nwafor testified that she did not inspect the materials herself and did not join the agents who did.
Miss Nwafor has in her written deposition averred that “The result sheets were not brought so an election did not hold in the polling unit on the election day.
A dramatic twist was introduced when Witnesses BB and CC both of whom swore to and wrote their depositions in English Language claimed they could not express themselves in English, compelling the court to introduce an interpreter to hear their testimony.
Under cross examination Witness BB Ikechukwu Okafor admitted that she completed his secondary education said she arrived at 11.30 am on the voting day and therefore could not testify to those accredited before his arrival He Corroborated the testimony of Miss Nonyelu that she was molested and taken far away from the polling booth.
When INEC Counsel asked how she knew that Miss Nonyelu was an APGA agent, he said : ‘It INEC officials that said so’.
But the climax of the drama was in the testimony of Witness CC , Mr Sunday Okeakpu who claimed in his written evidence that votes cast in his polling Unit at Orubuchi Kindergarten School was not counted and was not recorded, adding that he was there till voters ‘dispersed’.
When he was however asked what happened to those votes, he said: I do not know’. He gave his testimony in Igbo under interpretation after interventions by his lawyer Barrister Oguji, standing in for ON Obianwu SAN
The Matter has been adjourned till Wednesday February 1, 2012 for further hearing in which four witnesses including Prof Akunyili and an expert witness are expected to testify.
Before adjourning on Monday the Tribunal had granted the prayers of Akunyili and APGA to tender additional forensic evidence and the request of Ngige for forensic counter-evidence, while granting Ngige’s request to replace a deceased witness.