The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are at war over the outcome of the February 23 Presidential poll which the commission announced President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner.
Dissatisfied, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, headed to the court to seek redress. But, the electoral agency does not seem to be cooperating with him. Atiku who was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy from 1999 to 2007, is yet to gain access to the presidential poll materials.
Apparently rattled by persistent criticism from the PDP, INEC has finally explained why Atiku has not inspected election materials, as directed by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Before this development, PDP has been claiming that the leadership of INEC led by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has refused to obey the March 6, 2019 ruling of an Appeal Court, directing it to allow the party and Atiku, access to inspect the documents and materials used in the allegedly rigged February 23, Presidential election.
PDP National Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, claimed in a statement that it was a ‘’deliberate and wicked ploy’’ by INEC, allegedly acting in cahoots with the All Progressives Congress (APC), to frustrate their resolve to timeously file and mention our petition at the Presidential election Tribunal, and by so doing, ambush the case.
According to the PDP, ‘’it is imperative to inform Nigerians that upon obtaining the lawful order of the Court, directing INEC to forthwith, avail Atiku and the PDP copies of all the documents and other materials used for the Presidential election, our legal team wrote to the INEC Chairman on the 11th and 12th of March 2019 respectively, causing the Order to be served on INEC and requesting access to the said documents and materials.
‘’Despite being served with the Order and several follow-ups, the leadership of INEC has refused to grant the PDP and Atiku access to the materials and documents, notwithstanding the urgency of the matter.
‘’This action by the leadership of INEC has further exposed that it has been heavily compromised by the Buhari Presidency to rig the February 23, 2019 Presidential election and to frustrate the quest by Nigerians to reclaim the mandate from President Muhammadu Buhari and save the nation from the crisis of an illegitimate government.’’
The opposition is not yet done. Continuing, they added, ‘’the leadership of INEC and the APC are seeking to frustrate our court option, seeing that the documents and materials will expressly show that Atiku Abubakar clearly won the election by the votes directly delivered at the polling units across the country as well as expose how the commission and the Buhari Presidency manipulated the results for President Buhari.
‘’The PDP cautions the INEC to note that Nigerians are now aware of its manipulative tendencies and that any further delay in granting access to the materials might attract public odium. INEC should therefore end its unpatriotic partisan shenanigans with the APC and immediately obey the Court of Appeal and grant the PDP and Atiku Abubakar access to the documents and materials and free itself from unholy entanglement with the APC against Nigerians.’’
However, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, says the electoral agency will comply with the court directive ‘’if and when the Commission receives the order’’.
According to Oyekanmi, ‘’it is common knowledge that since the declaration of the results of the presidential election, the commission has been busy with the multiple activities associated with the national assembly, governorship, state houses of assembly and federal capital territory elections.
‘’Only last Thursday, the Commission presented certificates of return to senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect; including PDP members. Nevertheless, the Commission will comply when the due process is followed. But, let me also say this. The PDP needs to show some decorum in the way it composes its press statements.
‘’The INEC chairman and Commission members deserve some respect. The PDP’s frequent use of offensive and abusive words, which secondary school students get to read, very often, is unhelpful. It is advisable for every political party to show good examples and a deep sense of responsibility in the way it composes statements for public consumption.’’