The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, has demanded access to inspect electoral materials used during the polls.
Naija News reported that the Atiku media team, in a statement on Friday, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately comply with the court order of 3 March, 2023, which granted the party access to inspect the February 25 election materials.
Atiku made this demand through his lawyers and addressed to the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stating that his request is in compliance with an earlier court order to that effect.
The PDP candidate complained that earlier attempts by his lawyers to commence the inspection of materials were turned down by INEC officials.
The letter, dated 9 March 2023, from his legal team signed by Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, was titled: ‘DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDER GRANTED ON 3 MARCH 2023 FOR ACCESS, INSPECTION AND EXAMINATION/ANALYSIS OF ELECTORAL MATERIALS USED FOR 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION’.
It read, “I am Lead Counsel to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar GCON and the Peoples Democratic Party (our Clients) who participated in the 2023 Presidential Election which held on 25 February 2023, and on whose behalf we write in respect of the above caption. You will recall that the Court of Appeal, presided over by Hon. Justice Shagbaor Ikyegh, JCA sitting in Abuja, granted orders on 3 March 2023 in favour of our Clients.
“The Court expressly directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow and grant access to our Clients and their representatives to inspect, scan, make copies, forensically audit and obtain certified true copies (CTC) of all electoral materials which were used in the conduct of the Presidential Election.
“The Court in Order no. 6 specifically allowed our Clients to carry out forensic examination/analysis of the BVAS machines/devices and all information stored in the server/IREV/backend/clouds, amongst others. The enrolled Court Order was duly and promptly served on the Commission on the same 3 March 2023 by the Court bailiff accompanied by our Clients’ representatives.
“We have attached the acknowledged copy of the Court Order for ease of reference. It is our Clients’ brief that upon service of the Order, they immediately Page 2 of 3 requested for a date to follow up and they were asked to return on 6 March 2023. 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; and
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. Thank you in anticipation of your urgent positive action in this regard as time is really of the essence.
“Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”