By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not engage the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in argument on petitions before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal because they are sub-judice.
Mr Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, said this in a statement released in Abuja.
Okoye was responding to PDP’s allegation that INEC refused to release election materials used for the conduct of the Feb. 23, presidential poll to it as ordered by the presidential election petitions tribunal.
He said the commission was aware that there were petitions pending before the tribunal where the petitioners had filed their cases and the respondents had responded to the petitions.
He said that as one of the respondents in the petition filed by the PDP and its presidential candidate, the commission had responded to the said petition.
“The commission is aware that very senior lawyers are representing the petitioners and the respondents in relation to the said petitions.
“The commission is a Iaw-abiding institution and will not argue or canvass in the media, petitions that are sub-judice, and where the presidential election petitions tribunal is firmly seized of the issues.
“The lawyers representing the petitioners are seized of the state of the law and the course to take if they truly believe that the commission is in disobedience of the orders of the presidential election petitions tribunal.
“The commission is a Iaw-abiding institution and will continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of courts,’’ he stated.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan had on Monday, accused INEC of refusing the party access to election materials used for the Feb. 23, presidential poll as ordered by the Court of Appeal.
Ologbondiyan said the continued refusal of INEC to release the electoral materials to the party and its legal team was completely provocative, standing in the way of justice and working against the will of the people.
He said that it also showed that the commission was working with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency to frustrate the PDP and its candidate.
According to him, INEC and the APC were apprehensive that the materials used in the poll would show at the tribunal that the PDP and its Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar, clearly won the election.
The party’s national publicity secretary said the materials included forms EC8D and EC40G covering the nation, in addition to the report of the smart card readers.
According to Ologbondiyan the party had been reliably informed about how some persons in APC and INEC had boasted that they would never allow the materials and documents to be released to PDP’s legal team.
“This is the reason the APC and INEC manufactured a groundless claim that the form EC8D, EC40G and the reports of the card readers were not specifically captured in the order of the court,” he said.
According to him, the court was unequivocal in its order that all materials used for the election be made available to the party’s legal team.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court of Appeal, among other orders, directed INEC to release and allow our legal team to inspect, scan, forensically audit and make copies of forms EC4OA, EC8A, EC8AVP, EC8B, EC8C, EC8E and all other electoral forms.
“These include but not limited to ballot papers and voters registers and materials used for the conduct of the presidential election, held across Nigeria on the 23rd of February, 2019, for the purpose of instituting and maintaining an election petition,” he added.
Ologbondiyan said that the alleged refusal of INEC to release the materials was deliberate disobedience to the orders of the court for which the management of INEC should be charged for contempt. (NAN)