By Chimezie Godfrey
Legal Team of the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar have written the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) demanding daily access and inspection of the presidential election materials.
Joe-Kyari Gadzama, (SAN), the Lead Council to Atiku, in a statement urged INEC to obey the Court of Appeal order on 3 March 2023 which directed the electoral umpire to allow and grant Atiku and his representatives access to inspect and obtain certified true copies (CTC) of all electoral materials used in the conduct of the Presidential Election.
Gadzama stated,”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 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:
“Daily access to all polling documents, voters register, ballot papers and electoral forms/materials for purposes of scanning, forensic audit, expert examination and inspection;
“Daily access to the BVAS machines/devices and server/IREV/backend/clouds for purposes of forensic
examination and analysis; and 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.”
Gadzama added,”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 for the exercise as set out above in line with the subsisting order of the Court.”