Godwin Tsa and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has asked the Presidential Election Tribunal to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to surrender materials used for the February 23 presidential election for inspection.
The request is contained in a motion ex-parte filed yesterday by the opposition party and its candidate dated March 4, 2019.
In the suit, Atiku and the PDP have asked the tribunal to grant them leave to inspect the Voters Register, the Smart Card Reader machines, ballot papers and other vital documents used in the conduct of the poll.
In addition, they urged the tribunal to compel the INEC to allow their agents scan and make photocopies of vital documents used in the conduct of the election, for the purpose of establishing alleged irregularities.
Counsel to the applicants, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) disclosed that the reliefs sought against INEC were for the purpose of filing and maintaining an election petition they intend to lodge against the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.
Filed in support of the motion ex-parte is a 12-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Col. Austin Akobundu (retd), director, Contact and Mobilization of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the motion, which has INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as first to third respondents, respectively.
According to the result of the disputed presidential polls released by INEC, Atiku and his political platform came second behind President Buhari of APC.
Atiku rejected the outcome and vowed to challenge it in court.
He calimed the election was fraught with manifest irregularities adding that results collated by agents at various polling units across the federation, was at variance with what was eventually declared by INEC, in favour of President Buhari.
Uche who explained to Daily Sun that the procedure is a condition precedent for the filling of an election petition, assured that the main petition would be filed at the tribunal this week.
Meanwhile, leaders and supporters of the main opposition party, yesterday, besieged the headquarters of INEC to protest alleged violations of the Electoral Act during elections.
The protesting PDP leaders and supporters were led by the party’s National Chairman, Uche Secondus, who accused INEC of conniving with the APC to thwart the will of Nigerians. He said the electoral body, by its actions, was piling up gun powder in the country, noting that it will be disastrous when it explodes.
According to the party chairman, INEC’s conduct in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections fell short of expectations and cannot stand any scrutiny.
In a protest letter addressed to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the PDP leader contended that the selective use of the Smart Card Readers during the election was a violation of the electoral guidelines.
He claimed that in the run-up to the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, this weekend, the opposition has “credible intelligence” that some INEC officials were allegedly working with APC to manipulate the polls in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Rivers, Kwara and Kaduna states.
“The mood in the country shows clearly that INEC declared the wrong person winner in the presidential election and I urge you to watch your action because history is recording all you do for posterity
“The APC is deploying military operatives to help some of your (INEC) black legs manipulate Saturday’s elections in some states particularly Kaduna, Delta, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Kwara but Nigerians in those states have mobilised to defend their votes,” Secondus stated.
The letter entitled: “Cases of infractions and deliberate violations of the Electoral law and guidelines” read in part:
“The unconstitutional deployment of the armed forces especially soldiers and police for the illegitimate purposes to harassing, intimidating, suppressing of leaders of the PDP and suppression of voters in PDP strongholds across the country which are very well known to you. The use of these same security agents by the government to harass and intimidate Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and certain INEC’s National Commissioners for the sake of forcing them to declare votes for the APC’s candidates throughout the country have been officially or otherwise brought to your knowledge by the affected officers who even threatened to resign from their positions, yet you have decided to keep mute over it in a way portraying outright conspiracy and collusion of yourself and the commission with the APC government perpetrators.
“We also want to bring to your knowledge that most of the collation centres in the country were cordoned off by officers and men of the armed forces who chased away accredited agents and or candidates of our party, the PDP, from such centers while the results of the elections from the units were being manipulated, mutilated and altered to suite the dictates and criminal desires of the APC-led government. These results that were tampered with were accepted by you and your commission and announced as results of the elections.
“In places like Lagos, Rivers, Nassarawa, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Ondo, Osun states et al, results of duly conducted elections were illegally canceled, especially in the PDP dominated areas to reduce the margin of victory in those states in favour of APC candidates. Is it not surprising to you that Lagos State with over six million voters can only return less than one million votes? This was the case in virtually all PDP dominated states where voters’ suppression was deployed as a major strategy by you and the APC government in active collaboration of some of your unscrupulous RECs and staffers.”
INEC National Commissioner (Legal), May Agbamuche-Mbu, who received the protesters on behalf of the INEC chairman, assured that the commission intended to make the March 9 governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections free and fair.
“This country belongs to all of us and we must protect it with all our might. I believe that on Saturday, the elections will go on very well. Our mantra in this election is that we want peace in our country. I supervised Rivers and Bayelsa states; so, I know what it means to invest in that area, and the people of Rivers and Akwa Ibom know what they want,” she stated. (The Sun)
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