Presidency: PDP, INEC clash over election materials

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have disagreed over the petition filed by the party before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. While PDP accused the commission of obstructing the cause of justice by refusing to release the election materials used for the conduct of the February 23 Presidential election, INEC said the party is free to seek redress if it believes there was disobedience to the court order.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, stated that the continued refusal of INEC to release the election materials to its legal team was completely provocative.
The party said the commission should be charged with contempt, noting that its action was a contravention of the order of the Court of Appeal.
According to the party, it showed that the commission was working in cahoots with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency to frustrate the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
“INEC and the APC are apprehensive that the materials, particularly the forms EC8D and EC40G, in addition to the report of the smart card readers used in the presidential election, will show at the tribunal that the PDP and Atiku Abubakar clearly won the presidential election,” Ologbondiyan said.
The party alleged that it was informed that the APC and some top INEC officials were boasting that they would never allow the materials and documents to be released to the PDP legal team.
“This is the reason the APC and INEC manufactured a groundless claim that the form EC8D, EC40G and the reports of the card readers were not specifically captured in the order of the court, whereas the court was unequivocal in its order that all materials used for the election be made available to our legal team.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court of Appeal, among other orders, directed INEC to release and allow our legal team to ‘inspect, scan, forensically audit and make copies of forms EC4OA, EC8A, EC8AVP, EC8B, EC8C, EC8E and all other electoral forms and materials, including, but not limited to ballot papers and voters’ registers and materials used for the conduct of the presidential election, held across Nigeria on the 23rd of February, 2019, for the purpose of instituting and maintaining an election petition’.
“The refusal of INEC to release forms EC8D, EC40G and the reports of the card readers is, therefore, a deliberate and vicious disobedience to the orders of the court for which the management of INEC should be charged for contempt,” the party added.
It alleged that having rigged the election in favour of APC, INEC was now seeking ways to frustrate PDP petition at the tribunal.
“We, therefore, charge INEC, having been exposed, to end its shenanigan and release these documents without further delay,” PDP further demanded.
INEC Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement, said the commission was aware of the petition pending before tribunal, for which it is one of the respondents.
According to Okoye, “INEC is also aware that issues have been joined in the said petitions as the petitioners have filed their petitions and the respondents have responded to the petitions.
“The commission is aware that very senior lawyers are representing the petitioners and the respondents in relation to the said petitions.
“The commission is a law-abiding institution and will not argue or canvass in the media, petitions that are sub-judice and where the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is firmly seized of the issues.
“The lawyers representing the petitioners are seized of the state of the law and the course to take if they truly believe that the Commission is in disobedience of the orders of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

“The commission is a law-abiding institution and will continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of court.”
Meanwhile, the PDP has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to tender his West African Examination Certificate,to the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, and stop his diversionary tactics.
The party, in a statement yesterday by Ologbondiyan, said it was inexcusable for President Buhari to swear to an affidavit to claim an educational qualification he does not possess.
PDP noted that the claim by Buhari’s campaign spokesperson, Festus Keyamo, that an aspirant does not need WAEC certificate, but the ability to speak English, to contest for the office of the president, was admittance that the president does not have a WAEC certificate as he claimed in his INEC form.
“An attempt to deceive the public using a defective reading and skewed interpretation of a section of the constitution cannot exonerate President Buhari.
“Moreover, section 295 of the 1999 Constitution amended) is very clear on issues of interpretations and reference to questions of law,” the party said.
It maintained that the onus is on President Buhari, as ‘Mr. Integrity,’ to tender the certificate he claims to possess before the tribunal, instead of lame diversion from his aides. The INEC had declared Buhari as the winner of the February 23 election, having polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Atiku, who polled 11,262,978. Not satisfied, Atiku had, through his team of counsel, approached the tribunal to challenge the validity of Buhari’s victory.

Atiku, in his 139-page petition before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, stated that from the data in INEC’s server, the true, actual and correct results, showed that he (Atiku) secured a total of 18,356,732 votes to against Buhari’s 16,741,430 votes. The PDP presidential candidate stated that the results were from 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as there was “no report on server” about the election results from Rivers State.
In its response, the APC has told the tribunal that Atiku is not a Nigerian. The ruling party stated that based on the allegation, Atiku was not qualified to have contested the presidential election. The party claimed that Atiku was a Cameroonian and not a Nigerian citizen, adding that his petition against President Buhari should be dismissed for lack of merit.

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