Atiku Gets Court’s Yes To Inspect Election Materials
- Abandon card reader, get zero vote, Borno REC warns
The Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to inspect materials used for the February 23 presidential election.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner of the February 23 election with a total of 15,191,847 votes. Atiku, who came second with 11,262,978 votes rejected the results and vowed to challenge them in court.
A three-member panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki granted the order yesterday. Other members of the panel are Justices Emmanuel Akomaye Agim and Peter Ige. [NigeriaDecide 2019: Buhari Wins At Obasanjo’s Polling Unit]
Atiku and the PDP had through their lawyers, Levi Uzoukwu (SAN) and Chief Chris Uche (SAN), urged the tribunal to grant six reliefs to enable them institute and maintain their petition against the outcome of the presidential election.
They requested the panel to compel INEC to produce the Voters Register, the Smart Card Reader Machines, Ballot Papers and other sensitive materials used in the election for inspection and scanning.
The ex parte motion was supported with a 12-paragraphed affidavit deposed to by the Director of Contact and Mobilisation of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council, retired Col. Austin Akobundu.
But the tribunal, which is sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, rejected the request by Atiku and the PDP to be allowed to conduct forensic audit of the materials.
It stated that by the provisions of Section 151 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, INEC is only expected to allow the applicants access to inspect documents, adding that the result of forensic analysis was not admissible as evidence in court.
The panel added that the purport of sections 151 (1)(2) of the Electoral Act is at the stage of pre-hearing, and that the applicant can only be allowed to inspect and certify documents to protect the integrity of the materials.
The Director of Strategic Communications of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), who disclosed this in a statement earlier in the week, said Atiku Abubakar has a constitutional right to seek redress in court.
“In fact, it is the resort to court that is the only democratic way to ventilate his perceived grievance and any attempt to restrict or discourage the exercise of such right would be an invitation to anarchy.
“In addition, we are very anxious to meet Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in court in order to show the world in a conclusive manner the free and fair nature of the comprehensive defeat of Atiku at the polls, Keyamo said.
Abandon card reader, get zero vote, Borno REC warns
Meanwhile, The Resident Electoral Officer (REC) for Borno State, Mohammed Magaji Ibrahim, has issued a warning to all the electoral officers in the state to ensure that they enter zero votes for any polling unit that deliberately refused to use the smart card reader.
He also directed the EOs to ensure that all the ad hoc staff that performed below expectation and those that perpetrated conduct to the detriment of a smooth process during the presidential and National Assembly elections were replaced to ensure smooth governorship and state assembly elections.
Addressing representatives of political parties and security agents, yesterday, in Maiduguri, preparatory to Saturday governorship and state assembly elections, the REC said technicians had been stationed everywhere to immediately fix any faulty smart card reader to ensure that it was properly operational.
Alhaji Mohammed said all the 5,071 smart card readers in the state had already been reconfigured for the elections and would be conveyed to LGA’s along with all the sensitive and non-sensitive materials required for the elections.
The REC said the state had taken delivery of all the materials needed for the elections, assuring, “we are committed to conducting better elections in terms of credibility; if the presidential and NASS elections were very good, we want to make the governorship and state assembly elections excellent.”