Election materials: We have nothing to hide, Yakubu tells Labour Party legal team
Chairman of, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has declared that the electoral umpire has nothing to hide in regard to making materials and documents used in the February 25 Presidential Election available to political parties.
Yakubu stated this on Monday when he received the Labour Party, LP’s legal team led by Livy Uzoukwu at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
The Legal Team, which consists of about 60 lawyers, was at INEC to discuss ways to obtain important documents that will help the LP pursue its case at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
At the parley, Yakubu assured the lawyers that the Commission will provide all the documents it requested for them to prosecute their case.
He said: “We received a letter from Uzoukwu (SAN) on behalf of the Labour Party. We were served notice that the team will be here
to inspect the materials but more specifically, the letter requested us to get in touch with our Resident Electoral Commissioners across the 36 states of the Federation, including the FCT to make the documents and information available for the prosecution of their petition.
“A meeting has been scheduled with all the Resident Electoral Commissioners at 3 pm, today, which we will discuss among other issues, this matter of providing Certified True Copies (CTCs) not only to the Labour Party 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 can be given out almost immediately, others will be made available at the commission’s offices in states.
Yakubu added: “We have about I think 39 documents, this we can easily certify and give to you almost immediately.
“As for other documents that you are asking for, they are at the 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 a 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, so the tall and short of what I’m saying is that you will get this document speedily.
“We will also make arrangements and notify our RECs of your intended visit so that these documents will be made available to you at that level, including access to the inspection of any category of materials.
“So I crave your indulgence to ask your team to interface with the legal team of the commission immediately. Please be rest assured that INEC has nothing to hide. Whatever you’re asking for will be made available 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, an election petition is time sensitive. We have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients. Out of that 21 days, we probably have about 10 days to go and up till now we have not received any documents.
“We have written to INEC requesting for documents. Also, The Court of Appeal made an order on March 3, to INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any hence we requested for a meeting with the chairman of the commission.
“He graciously granted that audience within a very short notice, and he has given us assurance, concrete assurance on record that all documents we require will be made available and if possible, some of them will be made available to us today.
“So we believe that that will happen and we are assured that by the time we leave INEC premises at least, we will leave with some documents, the rest can then come from tomorrow.
Asked about the legal implications if all needed documents are not made available, the legal practitioner responded saying “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.
“That’s just the impression it will create. But listening to the chairman a short while ago and with all assurances, we want to give him the benefit of the doubt that we will get some of them today”, Uzoukwu added.