GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has raised an alarm over alleged plans by the opposition party to manipulate July 14 governorship election in the state through the use of federal employees to conduct the election.
But the state PDP, however, dismissed the governor’s claim, describing it as spurious alarm.
This came as the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from making further use of Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes, ECTBB.
The governor who spoke at an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in the state at the Police Officers’ Mess, Benin City, argued that the pronouncement of the Director-General of National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, to stop the use of Youth Corps members for the election would only cause confusion in the state.
Oshiomhole who said the PDP at a meeting in Abuja protested the use of Youth Corps members for the conduct of the election because they were anticipating violence, said it was a reflection of what they have in mind.
He said: “They protested that they do not want Corps members to conduct the elections because they saw some youth corps members at the venue of our campaigns even when it was obvious that the rallies were held in schools and students were in session. They claimed the decision was due to the violence in the state. Where is the violence in the state? They can bring the youth corps members from anywhere, from Sokoto, from Maiduguri, but we do not want federal employees. This election must be won or lost at the polling booth.”
Oshiomhole urged the NBA to prevail on the NYSC Director General not to allow anybody to manipulate them and if they allow federal civil servants to be used to conduct the election, they would bring people that would manipulate the election.
Account of his stewardship
The governor who gave an account of his stewardship said he was propelled into politics because of the poor state of affairs in the state which had so much promise and to demonstrate that the state was viable and that led to the administration doing some things differently.
He said: “We have focussed on areas completely abandoned by previous administrations and succeeded in delivering the greatest good to the greatest number of people around Benin City and across the state. We have made a bold statement on roads, connecting the rural communities with semi urban areas.”
Edo PDP replies
However, reacting, the Edo PDP said the governor was paranoid about the July 14 elections, hence he had been raising “spurious alarm” over phantom plans by the opposition to manipulate the outcome of the election.
Speaking through the party’s state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Matthew Uroghide, PDP said: “Edo people and, indeed, Nigerians are tired of Governor Oshiomhole’s paranoia and wish to tell him that if he is not ready for the elections, he should honourably withdraw.
“Again, this is one of those wild and misconceived accusations of Governor Oshiomhole and we are not surprised as it falls within the precinct of his usual blurred vision about the preparations by all the stakeholders and the bodies superintending the conduct of the forthcoming elections in Edo State.
Court halts use of procured ballot boxes
Meantime, the governorship election came under threat yesterday, as the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from making further use of Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes, ECTBB.
The high court, in a judgment it delivered, held that INEC had continuously violated the patent right of an indigenous company, Bedding Holdings Limited, by procuring and using the said ballot boxes to conduct elections without firstly securing the consent of the company.
Bedding Holdings which specialises in general fabrication and manufacture of steel metal products said the Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes were among many of its innovations duly registered with exclusive patent right issued to it by the Registrar of Patents in the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The company had approached the court contending that it has exclusive and bona fide patent right to the collapsible transparent boxes that was used by INEC for the conduct of the 2011 polls.
It told the court that the Certificate of Registration of the Patent Right Number RP 12994 and Registration of Industrial Designs Rights Number RD 5946 on the boxes were issued by the ministry to the plaintiff on January 12, 1998 for five year period.
According to the plaintiff, the patent right was renewed and extended to January 12, 2003 and January 12, 2008 respectively, saying it would be due for further renewal in 2013.
It alleged that INEC not only violated its rights by failing to seek its approval and consent before awarding contract for the procurement of the boxes used for the last elections, but went ahead with the electoral processes despite the pendency of the suit.
Meanwhile, the court, yesterday, held that going by the totality of evidence adduced before it, the company successfully proved that it is the bona-fide owner of patent for the production of ECTBB, as well as the patentee in respect of Proof of Address System/Scheme, PASS, used for the collation and collection of the names, age, sex, address, finger print, geographical description and location of various places in the country, including the bio-data of every person resident in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on November 24, 2011, following a memorandum by INEC, approved contract for the procurement 150,000 units of the ballot boxes at the unit price of N13, 000 with total sum of N1.950 billion to one EMCHAI Ltd.
Decrying that the decision was taken in total disregard to the patent right of the indigenous company, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr John Owonikoko, urged the court to intervene with a view to stopping such occurrence in future elections.
According to him, “our client was palpably shocked to learn from the media on November 25, that INEC had been using fraudulently and falsely contrived documents, successfully sought and obtained the ratification of FEC for the award of the contract of yet another 150,000 units of the collapsible transparent ballot boxes without the prior consent, licence and authority of our client being the rightful owner of the of the patent and copyright design.”
Besides, the lawyer urged the court to hold that the contract as well as the use of the boxes in utter disregard to the plaintiff’s patent rights was contrary to the clear provisions of Section 6 (1), 19 and 25 of the Patent and Design Act, Cap P2 LFN, 2004.
Justice Bello in his judgment, yesterday, upheld claims of the plaintiff, even as he declared a parallel patent right issued to EMCHAI over Envopak Ballot Boxes purportedly issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, sometimes in 2006, as illegal.
The judge held that the patent right of the plaintiff over the ballot boxes took priority for and over the subsequent registration issued to EMCHAI.