Court okays sacking of official who tampered with INEC database

It is alleged that the sacked official may have been working in the interest of some powerful politicians.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official who was accused of tampering with the commission’s database was fired, according to the National Industrial Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Friday.

Before terminated his appointment on August 7, 2020, the impacted officer, Sunday Ushie, was employed in the ICT division of INEC’s Uyo headquarters.

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On the eve of the 2019 general elections, INEC determined that Mr. Ushie had tampered with the commission’s database and was involved in the unauthorised transfer of registered voters from one local government area in Akwa Ibom to another, as well as from Akwa Ibom to other states.

Additionally, it was discovered that he was in possession of many permanent voter cards without INEC’s consent.

It’s believed that Mr. Ushie may have been acting in Akwa Ibom’s influential lawmakers’ best interests.

At November 2020, Mr. Ushie filed a lawsuit in Uyo’s National Industrial contesting the termination of his employment with INEC.

In his view, the court ought to order INEC to reinstate him and pay him N20 million as compensation because his employment had been unlawfully terminated.

However, the judge, M.A. Namtari, rejected the lawsuit, stating that INEC was correct to revoke Mr. Ushie’s appointment.

In the lawsuit, INEC was defended by Clement Onwuenwunor, SAN.

In light of the upcoming general election in Nigeria in 2023, Mr. Onwuenwunor praised the decision as being opportune.

He claimed that the court’s ruling will act as a deterrent to INEC officials, both permanent and temporary, who could otherwise conspire with politicians to subvert and damage the nation’s election process.

Background of the story.

Before his employment was terminated, Mr. Ushie presented his case to a panel at the INEC office in Uyo and an appeals panel at the INEC headquarters in Abuja.

According to court records obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Ushie acknowledged before the INEC panel in Uyo that “he was approached by about 200 persons resident in Abuja (for) inter-state transfer.”

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Additionally, he acknowledged meeting with some of the Itu LGA office personnel in Akwa Ibom to obtain the PVCs of people he had transferred.

According to the panel, Mr. Ushie acknowledged that his illegal actions had an impact on the local governments of Itu, Uyo, Uruan, and Etinan.

He carried out the transfers without obtaining official consent using a prepared list and PVC photos of the registrants. He received at least 200 transfers. About 100 such transfers occurred in Uyo LGA.

He was unable to obtain the PVCs from Itu that he desired. But he had given away roughly 7 PVCs from Etinan. PVCs in Uruan LGA, 1 or 2. He collected roughly 12 PVCs in Uyo LGA, which provided the majority of the distribution. The impacted wards were 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.

He acknowledged having PVCs and TVCs, which he freely turned over to the Panel. He was found to have about 12 PVCs and 16 TVCs, according to the panel’s report.

He also acknowledged that he had merely used the sum of N5,000 to buy data for the project and that his sponsors would pay him after the task was complete. The panel said, “He refused to reveal the sum of money provided to him or the names of his sponsors.

In answer to an inquiry from INEC, Mr. Ushie said that his only motivation was to help the individuals he knew and not for financial benefit.

In response to the question, he replied, “I will want to state with all humility and absolute truth that my purpose regarding this situation was not to skip the registration process but rather to exhibit my nice gesture of my honourable offices to support those voters.

He pleaded that disciplinary action not be taken against him and that justice be balanced with kindness.

Regarding two further INEC employees in Akwa Ibom who were fired for offences relating to the conduct of the 2019 elections, court charges are still pending.

On the night of the elections, one of them, a supervising officer at a local government area, was charged with giving 10 election result sheets (form EC8A) to politicians. His actions sparked rioting and prevented INEC from holding polls in the region.

The other was charged with giving 13 card readers to a state legislator.

PVC gutter lining.

A video that recently went viral on social media shows the alarming finding of several PVCs dumped in drains in an unnamed location in the nation.

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PVCs were seen strewn around in several unidentified offices in another clip.

Festus Okoye, the INEC’s spokesman, stated that the commission was looking into the clips.

According to a resident of Uyo, “By looking at the codes on the card, INEC can easily examine where the PVCs came from.” Every state in Nigeria has a distinctive code that differs from every other state’s.

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