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Threat to Guber Polls: INEC seeks variation of inspection order granted Obi, Atiku
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Threat to Guber Polls: INEC seeks variation of inspection order granted Obi, Atiku

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja, praying it to vary the orders it granted the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, LP,

  • PublishedMarch 7, 2023

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja, praying it to vary the orders it granted the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, LP, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to be allowed to inspect sensitive materials that were used for the presidential election.

INEC, in its legal process dated March 4, urged the appellate court, which will sit as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, to vary the order to enable it to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, it used for the presidential poll on February 25.

We can’t hold gov polls without reconfiguring BVAS

It told the court that the configuration was necessary since the BVAS would also be deployed for the next round of elections, starting with Governorship and State Assembly elections billed for Saturday, as well as other rescheduled elections.

According to the INEC, without a prompt variation of the inspection order granted to Mr. Peter Obi of the LP and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, especially the aspect restraining it from tampering with information contained in the BVAS, it would be difficult for it to proceed with the scheduled elections.

It will be recalled that a three-member panel of the court, last Friday, gave Obi and Atiku the nod to have access to all the sensitive materials the INEC deployed for the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.

The panel, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, made the orders after it heard two separate ex-parte applications the two aggrieved presidential candidates filed alongside their political parties.

Cited as Respondents in the matter were INEC, the acclaimed winner of the presidential election, Bola Tinubu, as well as his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Both applications were predicated on Section146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, Paragraph 47 (1, 2 &3) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act of 2022, as well as under the inherent jurisdiction of the Court as referenced by Section 6 (6) A & B of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

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Obi, Atiku’s prayers

While Obi, in his application marked: CA/PEC/02M/23, which was moved by his team of lawyers led by Mr. Alex Ejesieme, SAN, sought six principal reliefs, on the other hand, Atiku’s lawyer, Mr. Adedamola Faloku, sought seven prayers from the tribunal.

Specifically, the applicants persuaded the court to compel INEC to allow them to obtain documents in its custody that were used for the presidential election.

They maintained that the requested documents would aid their petition against the outcome of the presidential contest that was declared in favour of candidate of the APC, Tinubu.

More so, Obi and Atiku obtained order of the court granting them leave to file the application, outside or before the pre-hearing session of the planned substantive petitions.

The order read in part: “That the 1st Respondent, that is INEC is hereby directed to allow the Applicants inspect all the eiectoral materials used in the conduct of the Election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on the 25th day of February

“That the Applicants are hereby permitted to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of Voter’s Registration, Ballot Papers used in the conduct of the election for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on the 25th day of February, 2023.

“That leave is hereby granted to the Applicants to carryout Digital Forensic Inspection of BVAS machines used for the conduct of the 25th February, 2023 Election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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“That prayer 6 hereof is hereby struck out having been withdrawn by the Applicants”.

Obi had in the prayer that was struck out, sought an order to restrain INEC “from tampering with the information embedded in the BVAS machines until due inspection is conducted and Certified True Copies of them issued.”

Other Justices on the three-member panel of the appellate court that granted the applications were Justices Haruna Simon Tsammani and James Gambo Abundaga.

INEC had declared Tinubu of the APC as winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.

According to INEC, Tinubu, scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Obi of the LP who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.

Both PDP and LP had since rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge it in court.

Addressing the media, Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, insisted that they won the 2023 presidential election and   expressed their readiness to reclaim a mandate they said was given to them by Nigerians, through the court.

“We’ll explore all legal options to retrieve our mandate.  We won the election. I’m fully committed to a better future for the country, and nothing can stop that,” Obi added.

Under the Electoral Act 2022, any candidate dissatisfied with the return made by the INEC, shall within 21 days after the date of the declaration of the result of the election, file a petition before the tribunal.

An election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date the petition was filed.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the process filed by INEC. The electoral umpire has to serve the process on the Respondents to enable them respond.

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Giving the urgency, it was gathered that hearing may take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I’ll do completely new things as gov — Ahiwe

Sir Okechukwu Ambrose Ahiwe, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in Abia State, has pledged a fresh start and to “completely do new things in the state, if elected because he knows the issues and “will hit the ground running” on assumption of office.

Ahiwe stated this in a personal note to all Abia State citizens titled: “My Covenant with Ndi Abia,”  appealing to citizens to vote for him and the PDP House of Assembly candidates.

Ahiwe said: “Please vote for me and all PDP House of Assembly candidates. I will do completely new things in Abia. I know the issues, so I will hit the ground running. I will pay pensions and the salary arrears of our workers in the parastatals and offset leave allowances.

“I will build additional infrastructure to support and boost the Abia State economy. Our programmes, policies, projects and the politics of Abia State will be enablers for even faster growth of our education, health, agriculture, manufacturing and entrepreneurship. Youths, women, and the aged will experience hope and prosperity.

“I promise to create the Abia of our dreams that is peaceful, prosperous and progressive for the benefit of our people. My reputation as a simple man is well-known across party lines. My offer and subsequent Covenant with Ndi Abia is to serve you diligently and make Abia State work for all stakeholders.

“Under my watch, the resources of Abia State will yield dividends. I will run an inclusive government with programmes and policies focused on the growth and development of Ndi Abia.”

Ahiwe, a political scientist and building technologist  served as chief of staff to the outgoing Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.

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