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Presidential election: Obi’s legal team commences materials’ inspection as INEC assures transparency

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.. Picketing of INEC offices nationwide depends on outcome of the inspection says LP

Obiora Ifoh, Abuja

Aftermath of the February 25, presidential election, the legal team of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi has commenced inspection of the various materials used during the election.

 

Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also assured the Labour Party, LP’s 60 man legal team led by Dr. Levy Uzoukwu (SAN) of the Commission’s readiness to provide all documents the party requested to prosecute its case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

 

At a meeting between the legal team and INEC at the commission’s headquarters on Monday, Yakubu said the Commission would also meet with its Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, in the states to work out modalities for the inspection of materials in the states.

 

“INEC has nothing to hide. Documents available at the headquarters will be given immediately.

 

“We are meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners today and we will discuss how other documents at the state level could also be made available to you speedily.

 

“I want to assure you that the Commission will not hide any document from anybody and will make available any document that they have requested.

There are two categories of documents those that are in possession of the headquarters of INEC, we will easily make these documents available to you. Specifically the EC8Ds from the states and the ECD A, which is the collation at the national collection centre by the commission itself. The EC8E, the declaration, so many, a total of, I think 39 documents, this we can easily certify and give you almost immediately.

As for other documents that we are asking for they are at state level, so we need to work out the schedule so that we know when your team is going to which state and on which date so that we can easily facilitate not just certification of documents, but also the inspection that you requested for each of these documents.

 

“The other one is accreditation data from the back end. This will also be made available to you. Remember that the accreditation data covers over 176,000 polling units. We have to print them physically certify them, and give them to you ,so the tall and short of what I’m saying is that you will get this document speedily. They will also make arrangements and notify our resident electoral Commissioner of your intended visit so that these documents will be made available to you those that are at the level, including access to inspection of any category of materials.”

 

The Labour Party’s legal team was at the INEC headquarters to discuss modalities for obtaining the documents.

 

According to Dr Uzoukwu, “We are here because we have not received any electoral stocks for inspection on behalf of our clients, and as you all know, election petition is time sensitive. We have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients. Out of that 21 days we probably have about 10 days to go and up till now we have not received any documents.

 

“We have written to INEC requesting for a documents apart from that. The Court of Appeal made an order on the March 3, to INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any hence we requested for a meeting with the chairman of the commission.”

 

The Senior Advocate also that if their demands are not met by INEC, the consequences maybe far reaching.

 

He said, “That will be a national calamity. Why do I say that? Not making the documents available will create the impression that INEC is deliberately frustrating us. That’s just the impression it will create to make sure that we cannot prosecute this petition. But listening to the chairman a short while ago and all assurances, I want to give him or we want to give him the benefit of the doubt that we will get some of them today.

 

“We are very much bothered and I made that point when we met with the chairman that not only that our clients are bothered and agitated but also we members of the legal council are bothered, members of Labour Party are bothered, their supporters are bothered and restive.

 

“In fact, it has taken a lot to calm them down to exercise patience that we are going to get the documents because the court of the land has ordered the documents to be given to us.”

 

ObiDatti campaign spokesperson,  Chief Tanko Yunusa also said the outcome of the meeting will determine if the planned picketing of INEC offices will continue.

 

“Remember we made a press conference citing that we will not fail to mobilise our members to come out to march on the streets of INEC and offices of INEC nationwide. And graciously the chairman of INEC haven read that particular statement has granted this opportunity to come into his office and liaise with him and he has assured the team of lawyers that they are going to present this documents.

 

“So we want to wait and see the responses of our legal team. It is the legal team that will give us the marching order. When they are satisfied with what they’ve received from INEC so that our members nationwide and worldwide will be satisfied that we are doing our job and they are ready to prosecute this case accordingly.”

 

Recall that the party had earlier obtained a court judgement directing the electoral umpire to allow it inspect the materials used for the February 25 polls.

 

Also, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, last Wednesday, gave INEC the nod to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, it used for the presidential election.

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