Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Borno Central Senatorial candidate in the last election, Hon. Mohammed Kumalia has petitioned the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu over alleged tampering of electoral materials in the custody of Borno State office of the electoral body a month after the conduct of the Presidential/National Assembly elections.
Kumaila in the petition he personally signed, noted that: “Based on the outcome of the elections, I have filed a petition before the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Maiduguri. We obtained a court order to inspect materials used for the elections which included the ballot boxes used and unused ballot papers as well as obtain Certified True Copies of the result and collation sheets among others.
“I wish to draw your attention to the commission of electoral offence by some Ad – Hoc staff of the Borno State INEC in collaboration with the electoral officer in charge of Mafa Local Government, who were caught thumb printing and stuffing ballot boxes within the premises of the Maiduguri INEC Headquarters on Tuesday 22nd March, 2023, almost a month after the Presidential and National Assembly elections that was held on 25th February, 2023, in order to tamper and distort evidence to be presented before the Election Petitions Tribunal.”
He further alleged: “While our team of lawyers were undertaking the inspection of materials on March 22, 2023, in the premises of the INEC Headquarters, our inspectors discovered some INEC Ad Hoc Staff within the same premises, sorting out and rearranging and counting ballot papers and stuffing them in different Ballot Boxes in respect of Mafa, Ngala, Kala Balge and Dikwa Local Governments.
“Our inspectors immediately raised alarm and accordingly reported the incident to the Borno State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC). They drew the attention of the REC that the actions of the Ad-Hoc staff amount to tampering with evidence.
“The REC assured our team that the Ad Hoc Staff were only rearranging the documents that were dumped on them by the respective Local Government Electoral Officers who brought the materials from the local governments. Although we were not satisfied with the explanation, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and continued with the inspection.
“To our surprise, the next day, Thursday 23rd March, 2023, our inspectors this time caught red handed some Ad-Hoc staff actually thumb printing ballot papers and stuffing them into Ballot Boxes for Mafa Local Government right inside the premises of the INEC office in Maiduguri.
“Our Inspectors immediately arrested the two staff involved in the thumb printing and stuffing of Ballot Boxes and took them to the Bulumkutu Police Station together with the bundles of Ballot already thumb printed papers and the indelible ink they were using.
“We were surprised that no official of the Maiduguri INEC office took interest to accompany our team to the police station in order to ensure the arrest of the Ad-Hoc staff and undertake investigation of any possible crimes.”