Following the alleged refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to release the materials used for the conduct of the February Presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the electoral umpire not to plunge the nation into a monumental crisis.
The party added that the court of appeal had ordered the commission to release the materials of which INEC is refusing to obey.
The PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan noted that INEC, by the alleged action, is blatantly standing in the way of justice and working against the will of the people in their quest to salvage the nation and reclaim their stolen mandate at the tribunal.
While urging INEC to release the documents, the party said, “The PDP calls on Nigerians to note that INEC, having rigged the election in favour of APC, is now seeking ways to frustrate our petition at the tribunal.”
The statement read: “The continued refusal of INEC to release the electoral materials to the PDP and our legal team is completely provocative and shows that the commission is working in cahoots with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari Presidency to frustrate the PDP, our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and majority of Nigerians from retrieving our mandate at the tribunal.
“INEC and the APC are apprehensive that the materials, particularly the forms EC8D and EC40G covering the nation 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.
“The PDP has been reliably informed of how the APC and some compromised top officials of INEC have been boasting that they will never allow these 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.
But in a swift reaction, INEC in a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, said it 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.”
Okoye, meanwhile noted that the electoral body was aware of the petitions pending before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
He also said the commission was mindful that the 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 as one of the respondents in the petition filed by the PDP and its presidential candidate has responded to the said petition.
“The commission is aware that very senior lawyers are representing the petitioners and the respondents in relation to the said petitions.
“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,” Okoye said.
He further reiterated that INEC remains a law-abiding institution and will continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of the court.