Spokesman for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan
and Festus Keyamo, SAN, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are locked in a cross-fire over the claim by a top official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the electoral body had a central presidential election results transmission server.
While the PDP is saying that the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency is jittery by the revelation which alleges exposes their nerviness, as the guilty is always afraid, Keyamo fired back, claiming that some videos that have gone viral on social media purportedly exposing how the February 23, 2019 presidential election was rigged are subservient to the provisions of the Electoral Act and INEC’s guidelines.
INEC had declared President Buhari of the APC winner of the election with 15,191,847 votes, as against 11,262,978 polled by Atiku Abubakar, of the PDP. But Atiku is disputing the results, claiming the original results were those purportedly obtained from the controversial INEC server.
The former deputy of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) is claiming that the results obtained from the server showed that he (Atiku) actually polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, who had 16,741,430 votes.
In their petition to the election tribunal, PDP and Atiku deposed that some ad hoc staff and other INEC officials, relying on the training/instruction by the first respondent (INEC), transmitted the scoresthey got from the polling units to INEC server.
Atiku and PDP went on to list 13 ad hoc staff of INEC who all testified that they indeed uploaded results from their polling units to the INEC server as instructed during their training.
Atiku, speaking through his lawyers at the tribunal, led by Levi Uzoukwu (SAN), noted that the results he allegedly obtained from the INEC server were neither false, nor contrived, nor concocted.
Trending recently is a pre-election video of an INEC official explaining the manual and automatic recording of results on Channels TV to suggest that results uploaded to the INEC server are as valid as the manual version. This, even though this was not the official’s intention, seems to support Atiku’s claim that figures he obtained from INEC server prove his victory over Buhari.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Keyamo, who was Director, Strategic Communications of President Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign, warned that whatever video or evidence there were, they could not withstand the provisions of the Electoral Act or those on INEC guidelines.
Keyamo tweeted: ‘’Without referring to any particular pending Election Petition, there’s a need to generally guide Nigerians not to gullibly fall for the fantasy created by any video circulating where INEC official (s) spoke of INEC’s plan to electronically transmit results before the elections.
‘’The video(s) of some INEC official(s) expressing intention to electronically transmit results are only circulated for entertainment. That procedure is neither contained in the Electoral Act nor in INEC’s Guidelines. Courts are only guided by these documents and not such videos. Also, what you plan to do may be different from what you actually did. Assuming INEC planned to transmit electronically, the moment it said after the election that it did not do so, the matter ends there, especially as the Electoral Act and the guidelines do not allow it to do so.
‘’In anticipation of the electronic transmission, some crooks concocted fictitious results and perhaps in connivance with certain INEC insiders (or by hacking) tried to upload those results into the server. The fact that electronic transmission didn’t happen destroyed their plan. The irony is that the real cheats are the ones struggling to create a narrative that they were cheated; the real crooks are the ones struggling to convince everyone that the system is crooked; those who actually planned to steal the people’s mandate are the ones crying foul.
‘’The noise about electronic transmission of INEC results is akin to a student who wants to cheat in an exam and enters the hall with prepared answers, not noticing that the set questions are not exactly framed as expected. So, when he’s later told he failed, he says it’s impossible!’’
Apparently not persuaded, Ologbondiyan who is the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, insisted that the revelation speaks volumes about the reported denial by INEC of the existence of such a server for the 2019 general elections as well as the frenzy by President Buhari’s team to distract the Presidential election petitions tribunal by externalizing its proceedings.
According to Ologbondiyan, ‘’this is in addition to Presidency’s feverish attempt to divert public attention by engaging in judicial interpretations and hauling insults on our party and candidate, Atiku Abubakar, over our determination to retrieve our stolen mandate in the court. The lesson for all in the latest episode is in the undying verity that no matter how long falsehood appears to thrive, the truth will always come to light and prevail at the end of the day.
‘’Instead of this pitiable resort to frenetic and chaotic play to the gallery, the PDP counsels President Buhari and his team to focus on facing the course of justice at the tribunal. We will like to advise President Buhari and his team to curtail their desperation and respect the sanctity and integrity of the Court of Appeal by ending their externalization of proceedings, which has been their calculated scheme to distract the court and derail the course of Justice.
‘’Our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, are full of respect for the court and will never join President Buhari’s team in engaging in actions that tend to undermine independence and sanctity of the judiciary. Our party stands firmly with Nigerians in our determination to retrieve our stolen mandate in the court and no amount of shenanigans by the APC and the Buhari team will distract us or detract from the resolve of Nigerians in their expectation of the triumph of their will at the tribunal.’’