By Andrew Onyejuruuwa
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are having major disagreement over the implementation of the Court of Appeal order that INEC should grant the PDP access to materials they used during the presidential elections, which held on February 23, 2019. While INEC claimed that it had complied with the order, the PDP on the other hand has maintained that INEC had not obeyed the order.
Recall that INEC had declared the incumbent Nigeria president, Muhammadu Buhari who re-contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the presidential election. INEC said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes, while the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came second with 11,262,978 votes.
Atiku rejected the result and headed to the tribunal with a claim that he defeated Buhari in the elections having polled 18,356,732 votes. Against the result declared by INEC, Atiku claimed that Buhari, only polled 16,741,430 votes and so cannot be said to have defeated him in the election. Atiku is holding onto the result from INEC server, which showed that he defeated Buhari in the presidential election.
Atiku’s legal team decried alleged INEC’s refusal to grant them access to the materials, which had been inspected and paid for in the previous week. A member of the team, Mr. Silas Onu, explained that efforts to meet with INEC’s legal team had become an uphill task, but insisted that they would continue to follow up until the commission complies with the court order. He warned that they might be forced to file for contempt against the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and other officers of the commission if they do not give a positive response soon.
In their response, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the petitioner lied that the commission had not complied with the court order. Oyekanmi, who declined to comment further on the matter since it was before the court, said that the order had been complied with as far as the commission was concerned. “The Independent National Electoral Commission has complied with the orders of the Presidential Election Tribunal as far as the petition of the petitioner is concerned. It is, therefore, not true as the petitioner has alleged, that the commission has not complied. And since this is a subject of litigation, I will not comment more on the matter.”
Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, has also refuted the claim by INEC CPS. He said INEC only allowed them to inspect some of the materials requested for as ordered by the Court of Appeal but refused to allow them take possession of the documents inspected. He also stated that the commission has continued to deny them access to inspect its central server.
“That is a lie. As at last week our lawyers were still going there to get the physical retrieval of the documents already paid for in terms of their certification. After inspecting the documents, INEC did not allow them to take possession of the documents. They have carried out inspection although not all, they have not allowed them to inspect the central server but they did allow them to inspect some materials. But even those materials that they allowed them to inspect, they have not allowed them to take physical possession of the certified version. So, they are, therefore, lying. It is as simple as that,” Ozekhome SAN said.