Server Claim: Presidential Candidates, Party Chairmen Accuse PDP of Heating up Polity

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Opposition party kicks as Buhari hails presidential candidates Atiku: Tribunal didn’t reject my request on server

Omololu Ogunmade, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja

The Joint Forum of Political Party Chairmen and some presidential candidates who participated in the 2019 elections have accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of heating up the polity with its server claim, saying it was a deliberate ploy to destroy the integrity of the country’s electoral process.

Reacting to the position of these parties, the presidency last night in Abuja hailed the endorsement of 2019 presidential election by 60 presidential candidates and chairmen of their political parties as free, fair and credible and urged the opposition to accept its loss with grace and maturity.

However, the presidential candidate of the PDP in the March 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, said yesterday that the last has not been heard of this matter, saying he eagerly anticipates the actual ruling of the tribunal when the case begins.

The forum in a press conference in Abuja addressed by 13 of its members, insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server controversy was unnecessary, stressing that it was a plot by the main opposition party to discredit the election.

The chairman of the forum and the National Chairman of Advanced Peoples Democratic Party (APDA), Shitu Mohammed, claimed that in the build-up to the elections, presidential candidates and political parties held several meetings with INEC, stressing that the delay in finalising the electoral legal framework and the eventual withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill deprived the country of the much-needed reform of the country’s electoral process which must be anchored on the rule of law.

“This INEC server controversy is a deliberate ploy to destroy the integrity of our electoral process. Can the so-called results from the server be referred to as credible where INEC could not have legitimately transmitted results of the presidential or any of the other elections electronically?”

Mohammed said, “Therefore, the report of the European Union Election Observation Mission released over a week ago wherein they alleged a lack of transparency in the guidelines of election is bewildering. With all due respect to the EUEOM, it is left to Nigerians to decide how we conducted our 2019 general election”.

Reacting to the position of these parties, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said President Muhammadu Buhari promised to look into the Electoral Act in accordance with the advice of the presidential candidates.

“We are encouraged by the patriotism of the presidential candidates expressed in clear and matured language. We are convinced that, regardless of our different political persuasions we can work together to improve electoral integrity in Nigeria,’’ the statement said.

Meanwhile, Atiku has said that the last has not been heard of the server issue, insisting that the request to inspect the server was not rejected.

In a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Ibe, the former vice president said, “The request by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party to inspect the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission was not rejected.

‘’What the honourable tribunal said was that it is still at preliminary stages and the main case has not begun and that the matter of granting access to inspect the INEC server is not relevant to the preliminary stages.”

It is a matter to be adjudicated upon when the case proper is being heard.’’

Atiku said that the celebration by the administration of General Buhari that their electoral heist had been covered is premature, adding that their giddiness has even blinded them to the eye witness testimony given to multiple media in interviews by staff of the INEC that there is indeed a server and that they actually submitted results and accreditation through it.

In a separation the PDP’s spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan said in a statement yesterday that the political parties that endorsed the presidential election were “hurriedly conjured by

leadership of INEC and the APC to assist them in distorting facts, and making misrepresentations on a matter that are already subjudice, all in their attempt to clean up INEC’s blunders on the existence of the server, sway judicial pronouncements and

influence public opinion on extant matters in court’’.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the press release by this nebulous group emerged after INEC’s several blunders while the presidency has already admitted that the claim by the PDP and millions of Nigerians that INEC had a server wherein it stored results of the 2019 elections, “constitutes the fulcrum” of contention in the presidential election.

Nigerians are already aware of the existence of the server, which was duly budgeted for, set up in various INEC offices and in which data from the elections, including results, were stored. Moreover, the ruling of the Court of Appeal preventing the PDP from inspecting the server does not in any way obviate the existence of the said server,” PDP explained.