The Census Tribunal on Tuesday ordered the National Population Commission to conduct a recount in 114 localities in Bayelsa State where the state government contested the outcome of the 2006 census.
The Chairman of Tribunal ‘A’, Abraham Yisa, gave the order in Abuja in a judgment based on the failure of the respondent to disprove claims of non-enumeration of the areas by the complainant.
The Bayelsa State Government had challenged a population figure of 1,703,358 declared by the commission, alleging that the figure was inaccurate and did not reflect the population of the state.
It alleged that some fishing settlements were not covered by enumerators due to the lack of river transportation.
The government contended that the 1991 population figure for the state was 1,103,439 and that after 15 years, the population would have been higher than what was declared.
It blamed the omission of many areas or anomalies on the lack of river transportation for enumerators, census materials and delay in payment of enumerators.
It held that in most localities the exercise did not commence until the third day due to nonpayment of enumerators’ allowances, stressing that it was impossible for the state to be covered in four days.
In the lead judgment delivered by Miannaya Essien, the Tribunal held that exhibits tendered by the commission did not show there were enumerations in the contested areas.
Essien held that the respondent having admitted there were difficult terrains in parts of the state, failed to give material proof on how it was able to overcome those terrains.
The tribunal said: “The respondent in its pleadings unequivocally agreed with the complainant on the difficulty of getting to several settlements of Bayelsa due to the nature of its terrain but did not show in material particulars what measures were taken to forestall the difficulty with enumerating those terrains.
“The complainant stressed that having admitted the fact that the terrain is difficult raises the presumption that fact will in all probability result in improper enumeration.
“The tribunal acknowledges that it is trite law that facts admitted need no further proof, having admitted the difficulty in the terrain, the respondent did not go beyond the general rebuttal to disprove the fact.
“It did not go further to disprove the fact that difficult terrain had an effect on the census exercise.”
Essien held that the weight of evidence leaned on the complainant’s favour, stressing that it had made out a case against the respondent.
According to her, the tribunal voided the population figure of the entire state to avoid recurrence of the situation.
The tribunal further ordered the commission to do a recount in 114 areas of the state comprising 19 in Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, 18; Nembe ,15′ Brass, 14′ Ogbia, 14; Sagbama, 16; Yenogoa ,14; and four in Kolokuma/Opukuma local government areas.
“By the powers vested in the tribunal by virtue of paragraph 25 of the 3rd Schedule made in pursuant to Section 28 National Population Commission Act, Cap. N67, the tribunal holds that the complaint succeeds and orders recount of areas alleged in the complaint not to have been enumerated,” Essien said.