The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has told the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to comply with the court order granted to him (Atiku) to inspect materials used for the February 25 presidential election.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, presided over by Hon. Justice Shagbaor Ikyegh, on March 3, 2023, granted an order to Atiku to inspect materials used for the just concluded presidential election.
The Court of Appeal also directed INEC to allow and grant access to the PDP presidential candidate and his representatives to inspect, scan, make copies, and obtain Certified True Copies (CTC) of all electoral materials which were used in the conduct of the presidential election.
However, the former Vice President, in a letter dated March 10, 2023, and addressed to the INEC chairman, said all efforts to inspect the materials used for the poll were turned down by the electoral umpire.
Atiku, in a letter signed by his lead counsel, Chief J. K. Gadzama, SAN, said it was disturbing that despite the court order, INEC is yet to allow his lawyers to inspect and obtain the needed electoral materials used for the 2023 presidential election.
Gadzama stated: “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 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 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:
“1) Daily access to all polling documents, voters register, ballot papers, and electoral forms/materials for purposes of scanning, forensic audit, expert examination, and inspection;
“2) Daily access to the BVAS machines/devices and server/IREV/backend/clouds for purposes of forensic examination and analysis;
“3) 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 Page 3 of 3 for the exercise as set out above in line with the subsisting order of the Court,” the senior lawyer noted.