A Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) senatorial candidate for Kogi Central district, Natasha Akpoti, has raised the alarm that supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have in their possession a tranche of ballot papers to be used in the February 23 presidential and parliamentary elections.
In a video released online, the SDP candidate showed a booklet of ballot papers, calling on the federal government to audit all ballot papers in Kogi State, and a probe of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials in the state.
“I made a post on some discovery of some ballot papers that were found in the house of one of the APC’s supporters. I actually put up pictures, which generated some reactions. What actually drew my attention was a reaction from INEC itself. Permit me to read INEC’s response. INEC wrote at about 11.00 p.m that: ‘INEC’s attention has been drawn to stories that ballot boxes have found their way to the hands of politicians who are thumb-printing same for their favourite parties; specifically reference has been made to Kogi Central district.’
“Now the second tweet says: ‘This allegation is not true as all sensitive materials are in the commission’s custody or in the Central Bank’s vault. The stamps in the ballot papers do not represent any of the official stamps to be used in the forthcoming elections,” Akpoti claimed in the video.
According to her, she decided to speak out because there are some powerful Nigerians who are bent on scuttling the country’s democratic process.
“As a Nigerian I’m very particular about the principles of democracy being maintained. If we all care about saving Nigeria then it is everybody’s business. It’s not about INEC and me. So, what I had to do was to send for that ballot paper. See here, it is in my hand (shows a booklet of ballot papers). I’m going to show you page by page before I head to INEC because I intend to submit this alongside the petition I have written and the petition that my lawyer has written as well.
“So, let’s decipher and see whether it’s fake or original. And if this ballot paper is actually fake, then the question still comes up: how come we have an exact fake replica of the ballot paper? And if INEC is talking about the stamps, how do we know – how do the polling agents know what stamps are actually official?”
Continuing, she called for an investigation into how exact replicas of the ballot papers to be used in Saturday’s polls are already in circulation.
Akpoti added: “So, we have a lot of questions to ask: how credible is this election going to be? Who printed this (fake ballot papers)? We all know that for any printer to be able to produce the exact copy that leaves so much to be desired. So, right now I’m heading to the INEC office to submit this. I hope we all stand strong and insist that one of the prayers we’re putting before INEC is that we should have ballot papers for Kogi Central District changed in its entirety and of course, we should have the officials of INEC including the REC questioned regarding the fake ballot paper.
“To my knowledge I believe what I am holding here is the original ballot paper. I hope Nigerians will stand strong. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. We do not want any form of rigging or intimidation of voters. We must stand against a one-party state trying to rig the election and deny the masses their right of democratically electing their choice of leaders. Thank you, Nigerians.”