Election materials: We have nothing to hide, INEC chair tells LP legal team
• Avert national calamity, release documents requested promptly, says Obi’s lead counsel
• Obi insists presidential election marred with irregularities, can never be acceptable
• Buhari: February 25 elections not perfect, but better than previous polls
• IGP directs state commands to hand over electoral offence cases to INEC
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has declared that the electoral umpire has nothing to hide when it comes to making materials and documents used in the February 25 presidential elections available to political parties.
Yakubu stated this, yesterday, when he received the Labour Party (LP) legal team, led by Livy Uzoukwu, at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. The legal team made up of about 60 lawyers were at INEC to discuss modalities for obtaining key documents that will assist LP in prosecuting its case at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
At the parley, Yakubu assured the lawyers that the Commission would provide all the documents it requested for them to prosecute their case. He said: “We were served notice that the LP team will be here to inspect the materials, but more specifically, the letter requested us to get in touch with our Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) across the 36 states, including FCT, to make the documents and information available for the prosecution of their petition.
“A meeting has been scheduled with all the RECs today, which we will discuss among other issues, this matter of providing Certified True Copies (CTCs) not only to LP, but to all other litigants as well.
“I want to assure you that the Commission will not hide any document from anybody and will make available any document that they have been requested.”
According to Yakubu, there are two categories of documents in INEC’s possession at the Commission’s headquarters. He said while some documents could be given out almost immediately, others would be made available at INEC offices in states.
“As for other documents that you are asking for, they are at state level, so, we need to work out the schedule so that we know when your team is going to which state and on which date so that we can easily facilitate not just certification of documents, but also the inspection that you requested for each of these documents.
“The other one is accreditation data from the back end. This will also be made available to you. Remember that the accreditation data covers over 176,000 polling units. We have to print them physically, certify them, and give them to you.”
Speaking after the meeting, Uzoukwu said the team visited INEC because it was yet to receive any electoral materials for inspection on behalf of its clients. He stated: “We are here because we have not received any electoral stocks for inspection on behalf of our clients, and as you all know, election petition is time sensitive. We have 21 days to file a petition. Out of that 21 days, we probably have about 10 days to go and up till now we have not received any documents.
“But the INEC Chairman has given us assurance that all documents we require will be made available and if possible, some of them will be made available to us today.” Asked of the legal implications if all needed documents are not made available, the legal practitioner responded: “That will be a national calamity.”
According to him, not making the documents available will create the impression that INEC is deliberately frustrating the LP’s petition.The spokesperson of the Obi/Datti campaign organisation, Tanko Yunusa, had recently said the party would not fail to mobilise their members to come out and march on the streets if INEC does not make the inspection of election materials possible in record time.
However, yesterday, he said: “The INEC Chairman, having read that statement, has granted us audience to liaise with him and he has assured the team of lawyers that they are going to present these documents. So, we want to wait and see the response of our legal team. It is the legal team that will give us the marching order.
“When they are satisfied with what they have received from INEC, they will let us know so that our members nationwide and worldwide will be satisfied that we are doing our job and they are ready to prosecute this case accordingly.”
LP’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has debunked insinuations that he accepted the declaration of presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as winner of the February 25 election.
Obi who appeared on the Morning Show on Arise TV, yesterday, said his position has not changed. “No change whatsoever in our position on the flawed presidential election.”
A statement by the Obi-Datti campaign organisation quoted Obi in his response to a question, to have been emphatic on his condemnation of the process, under which the election was conducted, including his rejection of the declared results, and purported winner, by INEC.
“This is now being mischievously twisted as an acceptance of the declaration or outcome of the election in some conventional titles and social media forums. It is quite clear that a compromised and incompetent process cannot produce a legitimate or acceptable outcome.
“Mr Obi and the Labour Party remain convinced that the election was carried out with disregard for law and due process, and with overbearing evidence of malfunctions, discrepancies, interference, intimidation, thuggery, alterations and criminality. Our position on the flawed elections of February 25 has not changed, and that is why we are in court.”
MEANWHILE, the Presidency, yesterday, said the general elections held on February 25 may not have been perfect, but due to the steps the government has taken, it is an improvement on previous polls.
In a statement, the Presidency insisted that the ruling APC candidate, Tinubu, won the presidential election. It thanked former ambassadors Mark Green and Johnnie Carson – along with other foreign observers – for their concerns over the logistics of the recent general election in Nigeria and their work as observers on the National Democratic Institute/International Republican Institute Election Observation Missions.
THE Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has directed Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands to ensure that investigations in all cases of violations against the 2022 Electoral Act during the February 25 election are swiftly concluded and the case files forwarded to INEC for prosecution.
Police spokesman, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said in a bid to ensure all-inclusive election security management and accord Nigerians benefits/leverage of active participation, to achieve free, fair, and credible governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on March 18, the IGP has tasked Strategic Police Managers to engage stakeholders in their respective jurisdictions through town hall meetings and other viable avenues.