The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last February election, Atiku Abubakar has demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) immediately comply with a court order giving him access to Electoral materials; suggesting that the Chairman of the commission was playing hanky panky with obedience of the order.
His party has also demanded the resignation of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as INEC Chairman, charging the Police, and Department of State Services (DSS) to investigate him for alleged electoral offences. The party also demanded international sanctions for undermining democracy
In a letter by Atiku’s lead counsel of his legal team, Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN,, he wrote:
“DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDER GRANTED ON 3 MARCH 2023 FOR ACCESS, INSPECTION AND EXAMINATION/ANALYSIS OF ELECTORAL MATERIALS USED FOR 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
“I am Lead Counsel to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar GCON and the Peoples Democratic Party (our Clients) who participated in the 2023 Presidential Election which held on 25 February 2023, and on whose behalf we write in respect of the above caption. You will recall that the Court of Appeal, presided over by Hon. Justice Shagbaor Ikyegh, JCA sitting in Abuja, granted orders on 3 March 2023 in favour of our Clients.
“The Court expressly directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow and grant access to our Clients and their representatives to inspect, scan, make copies, forensically audit and obtain certified true copies (CTC) of all electoral materials which were used in the conduct of the Presidential Election.
“The Court in Order no. 6 specifically allowed our Clients to carry out forensic examination/analysis of the BVAS machines/devices and all information stored in the server/IREV/backend/clouds, amongst others. The enrolled Court Order was duly and promptly served on the Commission on the same 3 March 2023 by the Court bailiff accompanied by our Clients’ representatives.
“We have attached the acknowledged copy of the Court Order for ease of reference. It is our Clients’ brief that upon service of the Order, they immediately Page 2 of 3 requested for a date to follow up and they were asked to return on 6 March 2023. On 6 March, our Clients’ representatives led by Adedamola Fanokun, Esq (office of the PDP National Legal Adviser) returned to the Commission ready to commence inspection, examination and obtaining of the electoral materials as ordered by the Court but they were informed at the Commission’s legal registry that there was no instruction yet from the Commission on the Court Order.
“Our Clients further requested audience with the Commission’s Director of Litigation to accelerate the process but they were not allowed as they were told by the Registry staff that the Director was in a meeting. Sadly, these and other efforts by our Clients have yielded no result. It is disturbing that despite service of the Court Order on the Commission since 3 March 2023, the Commission is yet to allow our Clients and their representatives to access, inspect and/or obtain the needed electoral materials as ordered by the Court despite repeated visits to the Commission and follow-up in respect thereof. No doubt, the Commission is bound by the orders of the Court and cannot choose if, when and/or how to comply with same. The unqualified obligation of the Commission, which of course includes INEC officials, is to unhesitatingly comply and give effect to the subsisting order of Court; there is no discretion to exercise here. In the circumstances, we hereby demand that the Commission should immediately comply with the subsisting orders of Court and in particular, we reiterate the following demands on behalf of our Clients:
1) Daily access to all polling documents, voters register, ballot papers and electoral forms/materials for purposes of scanning, forensic audit, expert examination and inspection;
2) Daily access to the BVAS machines/devices and server/IREV/backend/clouds for purposes of forensic examination and analysis; and
3) CTCs of all BVAS accreditation reports, forms EC40A, EC8A, EC8AVP, EC8C, EC8D, EC8E and all other electoral forms/materials on a State by State basis. We hope that our demand will receive the prompt positive action that it requires as we will continue to visit the Commission on a daily basis Page 3 of 3 for the exercise as set out above in line with the subsisting order of the Court. Thank you in anticipation of your urgent positive action in this regard as time is really of the essence.
“Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”
He also attached the court order.
Meanwhile, the PDP spokesman, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, has said the main opposition party has further reviewed what it describes widely-condemned infractions, brazen violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and criminal manipulation and alteration of election results by the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to subvert the Will of Nigerians in the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
He adds, “The PDP has also reviewed the latest scheme by INEC to reconfigure the BVAS devices, erase and destroy evidence of its manipulation of the Presidential election, deny Nigerians and political parties, especially our Party and Candidate access to relevant information required to prosecute our case at the Presidential Election Tribunal.
“From all indications, the INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was compromised to rig the election by brazenly violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as INEC’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manual issued for the election.
“It is also obvious that the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu deliberately sabotaged the uploading and transmission of results directly from the Polling Units to give room for the criminal mutilation, alteration and switching of election results across the nation in favour of the APC as now abundantly exposed in the pictorial and video evidence of compromised results sheets in many parts of the Country.
“Several evidence abounds in States across the six Geo-Political Zones of the Country where winning figures lawfully scored by the PDP were switched in favour of the APC; where results sheet from polling centers won by the PDP were destroyed and replaced with fake results sheets in which APC was allocated unearned winning figures.
“This further explains why the INEC Chairman rushed to announce and declare manipulated results that were not transmitted directly from the Polling Units to INEC’s Server/Website and ignored the objections and complaints raised during the collation of results in deliberate violation of the provisions of Section 64 (4) (a) and (b), 64 (6) (a)-(d), and 65 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act. 2022.
“For emphasis while Section 64 (4) (a) and (b) expressly require the INEC Chairman as the Chief Returning Officer to announce only results that were transmitted directly from the Polling Units, Sections 64 (6) (a)-(d) and 65 (1) (c) compel INEC, in the case of disputes, complaints or objections regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any Polling Unit, to take steps including the review of collation where they are made contrary to the provisions of the Law, Regulations, Guidelines and Manual issued for the election.
“By flagrantly violating these provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as INEC’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manual for the election, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is not only culpable of serious electoral offence but also betrayed, thrashed and threw overboard the trust, confidence and hope Nigerians reposed in him and the Electoral Commission to deliver a free, fair and credible election in the country.
“The continuing stay of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in office as Chairman of INEC is therefore vexatious, injurious to the integrity of the Electoral Commission and an unpardonable assault to the credibility of our electoral process, the sensibility of Nigerians and the International Community.
“Moreover, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s stay in office is capable of paving the way for the suppression, tampering and destruction of critical evidence required to further expose the infractions and violations by the Commission at the Presidential Election Tribunal.
“This fear is evidenced by the desperation by INEC to reconfigure the BVAS devices to erase vital data contained therein.
“Consequently, the PDP demands that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu immediately step down from office, having abused the confidence and dashed the hope of millions of Nigerians as well as political parties and the International Community for a free, fair and credible election.
Nigerians no longer have faith in Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s “capacity and integrity to manage a democracy institution as sensitive as INEC.
“Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s exit as Chairman of INEC will be the first step towards sanitizing the Electoral Commission and restoring the confidence of Nigerians especially as the nation prepares for the rescheduled March 18, 2023 Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“Furthermore, the PDP demands that the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) immediately commence investigations into the electoral violations and manipulations by INEC with the view to prosecuting Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and other officials of the Commission for electoral offences.
“In the same vein the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should open investigation into allegations that certain top officials of INEC were heavily compromised financially to manipulate the electoral process.
“The PDP notes the reports of various International Bodies in disapproval of actions by the leadership of INEC in undermining democracy in the conduct of the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“In that regard, the PDP calls on the International Community to immediately impose sanctions including travel restrictions on the INEC Chairman and other top officials of the Commission over their roles in compromising democracy in Nigeria.
“The PDP calls on Nigerians to remain calm but very alert as our Party continues to take steps to retrieve our mandate at the Presidential Election Tribunal.”