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*PDP wants EFCC, Police, DSS to commence prosecution of INEC’s Chairman/officials for ‘financially compromising electoral laws’
*Trouble in APC as National Vice Chairman calls for resignation of Abdullahi Adamu, Omisore
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar has written to the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, demanding immediate compliance with a recent court order on the inspection of the election materials used during the poll.
On the same day, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Vice Chairman (North-west), Dr. Salihu Lukman called for the resignation of the party’s National Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu and National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omsiore, in the interest of the party.
Also yesterday, the PDP asked the Police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence prosecution of the INEC chairman and some officials of the commission “for financially compromising the electoral laws through inducement.”
Atiku and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), who lost the presidential election to Bola Tinubu of the APC, refused to concede defeat and approached the Court of Appeal, requesting to inspect the election materials used. The request was granted on March 3.
Yesterday, Atiku’s lead counsel, Joe Gadzama wrote on behalf of his client to the INEC Chairman, calling for immediate compliance with the court’s order on access, inspection, examination and analysis of the presidential election materials.
Gadzama wrote: “You will recall that the Court of Appeal, presided over by Hon. Justice Shagbaor Ikyegh, JCA sitting in Abuja, granted orders on March 3 2023 in favour of our clients.
“The Court expressly ordered 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 requested 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 an 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 the 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:
“Daily access to all polling documents, voters register, ballot papers and electoral forms/materials for purposes of scanning, forensic audit, expert examination and inspection; Daily access to the BVAS machines/devices and server/IREV/backend/clouds for purposes of forensic examination and analysis; and 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 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.”
The Justice Joseph Ikyegh-led panel of the appellate court, which will also sit as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, granted the request for inspection of the electoral materials on March 3 after it heard two separate ex-parte applications brought by Atiku, Obi and their political parties.
Tinubu, who won the February 25 election scored 8,794,726 votes, the highest of all the candidates, thus meeting the first constitutional requirement to be declared the winner.
He also scored over 25 per cent of the votes cast in 30 states, more than the 24 states constitutionally required.
The INEC Chairman, who announced the final results, said Atiku came second with 6,984,520 votes. Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
Atiku and Obi have refused to concede defeat, vowing to recover their mandates in court.
Vice Chairman demands Resignation of Adamu, Omisore
The APC National Vice Chairman, Lukman is calling for the resignation of Adamu and Omsiore for a number of reasons.
Lukman in a statement issued yesterday titled, “APC Internal Dynamics and the Future of Democracy”, said it was important that even before May 29, 2023 when Tinubu would be sworn in as President, every step must be taken to rectify any situation that might be used to continue divisive campaigns and propaganda against the APC and its control of the federal government.
To this end, he called for an Emergency National Convention where the new national leadership of the party would emerge.
He said with a National Chairman who is also a Muslim, it would be important that every necessary step was taken to inject a change of leadership for the party so that a new National Chairman who is a Christian takes over.
To him, part of the advantage of this was that the National Chairman could be retained in North-Central.
The party chieftain stressed that the current National Chairman has done an excellent job to manage a successful campaign to win the 2023 election with all the attendant challenges, adding that there should be no difficulty in convincing Adamu to resign to create opportunity for a Christian Chairman to emerge.
According to him, “For that to happen, it may require an Emergency National Convention because if the hierarchy of the current leadership is to be followed, the successor to Sen. Adamu will be Sen. Abubakar Kyari who is a Muslim from the North-east.”
Lukman stressed that apart from changing the National Chairman, there was the need to address the case of the National Secretary of the party.
He stated categorically that Omisore had become a source of strong dispute in Osun State.
He noted: “Unfortunately, rather than serving as a unifying factor for the party leadership in Osun State, Omisore is more a divisive factor, which may have been responsible for why APC lost the 2022 Governorship election to a political mediocre whose only qualification in politics may appear to be comic dancing skill.”
Lukman also said there was need for APC leadership to properly plan the distribution of key positions in the federal government to reflect both ethnic, religious, gender and other demographic considerations.
Against this background, he called on the leadership of the party to zone the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker House of the Representatives to North-west, South-east or South-south.
Lukman pointed out that given that the President and Vice President are from South-west and North-east respectively, nobody from either of these two regions should aspire for the positions of Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He said opportunists might argue that in the last four years, the South-west also produced the Vice President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, but insisted that the party must correct this kind of lop-sided reality as a strategic approach to dousing ethnic and religious tension in the country.
Lukman stated: “Accordingly, the positions of Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives should be zoned to North-west, South-east or South-south. With a Muslim President and a Muslim Vice President, it is only logical to zone the Senate President who is the number three ranking leader of government to either the South-east or South-south who would be a Christian.
“Logically, the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the North-west. This would have the advantage of acknowledging that the North-west gave Asiwaju Tinubu the highest votes of 2,950,393, representing 33.6% of the votes he won.”
PDP wants INEC Chairman Prosecuted
For the second time in 10 days, the PDP has called on Yakubu to resign as INEC Chairman.
PDP also asked the Police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence criminal prosecution of the INEC Chairman and some officials of the commission for “financially compromising the electoral laws through inducement.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba who made the demands at a press conference in Abuja yesterday said: “The party has further reviewed the widely-condemned infractions, brazen violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and criminal manipulation and alteration of election results by the Yakubu-led INEC to subvert the Will of Nigerians in the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
“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.
“It is also obvious that the Commission under Prof. 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.”
Consequently, Ologunagba said the PDP demands that Yakubu should immediately step down from office, having allegedly 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.
Furthermore, he said “the PDP demands that the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of DSS immediately commence investigations into the electoral violations and manipulations by INEC with the view to prosecuting Prof. Yakubu and other officials of the Commission for electoral offences.
“In the same vein the EFCC should open investigation into allegations that certain top officials of INEC were heavily compromised financially to manipulate the electoral process.”