• Says failure to obey court order may cause crisis
• We won’t engage in media war, replies commission
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday raised the alarm over alleged refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to obey the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal’s order to release election materials used for the conduct of the February 23, presidential election to it.
The party warned that this could plunge the nation into a monumental crisis.
But the electoral commission reacted swiftly yesterday, telling THISDAY that it would not engage in a media war with any party over issues that are in court.
The main opposition party had also said that the refusal by INEC to release forms EC8D, EC40G and the reports of the card readers was a deliberate and vicious disobedience to the orders of the court for which the management of INEC should be charged for contempt.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said INEC, by its action, was 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.
According to him, “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.”
Ologbondiyan added that the party has been reliably informed of how the APC and some compromised top officials of INEC have been boasting that they would never allow these materials and documents to be released to PDP’s legal team.
He stressed: “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.
“This is the reason the APC and the 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 party said Nigerians should note that INEC, “having rigged the election in favour of APC” was now seeking ways to frustrate its petition at the tribunal.
It, therefore, called on the electoral umpire to end its shenanigan and release the documents without further delay.
We Won’t Engage in Media War over Issues Pending Before Court, Says Commission
Meanwhile, the commission has said it is aware that there are petitions pending before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
Its National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, maintained that the commission is a law-abiding institution and would continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of court.
He told THISDAY: “The commission 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 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 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.”