by crossriverwatch admin
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in Cross River State has cleared the air over a petition against 83years old Elder Lawrence Mbeh Agbiji, a chief and Clan Head of Effi Clan in Okuni community in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Mr. Odey Oyama, the Executive Director of Rainforest Resource and Development Centre RRDC and the CPC candidate for the state house of assembly in Ikom State constituency during the last election, in a petition to the Cross River State Commissioner of Police and copied to INEC, alleged that the Ikom monarch registered twice.
He called on the police and the electoral body to investigate and prosecute Elder Agbiji Lawrence Mbeh for the Electoral Offence of “Improper Use of Voter’s Cards” pursuant to the violation of Section 120 subsection (1c) & (1d) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
In the petition, Mr. Odey alleged that: “I have identified confounding revelations of violations of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended as it relates to “Improper Use of Voter’s Cards”.
While presenting details of the alleged double registration, Mr. Oyama added that: “It is sad to observe that while the Federal Government is making conscious effort to stamp out fraud and corruption in our body polity, some persons are in the habit of perpetrating electoral crimes thereby frustrating the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission”.
But crossriverwatch gathered from a top source in INEC that the alleged double registration was occasioned by the faulty machines that were used for the initial voter registration exercise.
The source who did not want to be named said: “When the matter got to INEC, We immediately started an investigation. They brought the register. The document the petitioner filed was our document. Yes, the old man registered twice. If you check the first one, you will see only two of his finger prints”.
“Remember that time we had problems, that initial time when we started registration in 2nd of February when the machines were not capturing finger prints very well, you understand? We said people should come back again.
“Subsequently, the old man was now registered again. If you see the second registration, the ten finger prints are complete. So that shows to you that it was a case of the first one not working and they tried it again. So what we needed to do was to delete that first one; which is part of our own responsibility which is also currently ongoing. So purely, the second registration was to cure the defect of the first one.
“When you write to police about election matters, the first place the police should come to, to investigate allegations of double registration is INEC. Till today as I’m talking to you, no Police man has come to INEC over the matter. How come see our office, see police office and the police have not bothered to come here and ask any question?” the source queried.
Crossriverwatch attempts to reach the Investigating Police Officer in the matter were unsuccessful as calls to his phones were not connecting.
But a police officer involved in the investigation who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter told crossriverwatch that the petition has been referred to OC Homicide for investigation.
He said: “The police have invited the Chief and he told us he will be here last Tuesday but up till now, he has not honored the invitation. I think he is on the run or in hiding. We are only asking him to come and clarify the issues raised by the petitioner against him.”
Meanwhile, a family source of Elder Mbeh in a chat with crossriverwatch said Elder Mbeh is lying ill in an unnamed hospital. He wondered why the police will expect an 83 year old man to travel to Calabar to answer questions when there is a police station in Ikom that can handle the matter.
He added that it is awkward for anyone to think that someone who wishes to perpetrate electoral fraud like double registration will leave young able bodied men and use an 83years old man who can barely move around.
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