By Angela Atabo
Abuja, March 13, 2023
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is willing to make available all necessary documents on the Feb. 25 presidential election for inspection by interested parties.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, INEC, said this when he received a team of lawyers from the Labour Party (LP) led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in Abuja on Monday.
Yakubu acknowledged the receipt of a letter from the LP dated March 6, notifying it that the team would visit for inspection of election materials.
He said that the letter also requested the commission to get in touch with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) across the 36 states and the FCT to make the documents available for the prosecution of the LP’s petition.
Yakubu said that INEC had scheduled a virtual meeting with all the RECs to discuss among other issues, the matter of providing Certified True Copies (CTCs) not only to the LP but to all other litigants.
“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.
“Please be assured that INEC has nothing to hide; whatever you are asking for will be made available to you.
“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 EC8DA, which is the collation at the national collation centre by the commission itself.
“The EC8DA, the declaration, so many documents, a total of I think 39 documents, this we can easily certify and give you almost immediately,’’ he said.
Yakubu said other documents being sought for were at the states level, saying that INEC would work out a schedule to know when the team would visit the states, so as to easily facilitate not just certification of documents, but also the inspection requested for each of the 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 am saying is that you will get these documents speedily,” he said.
Yakubu urged the LP legal team to interface with INEC’s legal team immediately to work out things.
Speaking, Uzoukwu (SAN) and Lead Council to the LP Presidential Legal Team, said the visit was to prepare ground for the inspection of the materials for the presidential election.
“As you all know, election petition is time sensitive, we have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients and 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 the documents, apart from that, the Court of Appeal made an order on March 3, ordering INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any hence we requested for a meeting with the chairman of INEC.
“The INEC Chairman graciously granted that audience within a very short notice, and he has given us assurance, concrete assurance, on record that all documents we require will be made available and if possible, some of them will be made available to us today,’’ he said.
Uzoukwu said the team believed that INEC would respond as promised, adding that “we are leaving here rest assured that at least we will leave with some documents, the rest can then come from tomorrow and so on and so forth.
“At least if we get some of them today that is indicative that we’ll get some other documents from tomorrow, next tomorrow to enable us file this petition,’’ he said.
Dr Tanko Yusuf, Chief Spokesperson for Peter Obi/Datti Ahmed presidential campaign council, said that the party gave an ultimatum for INEC to make available the documents failure of which it would mobilise its members to demonstrate against INEC nationwide.
Yusuf said that graciously the chairman of INEC haven read that particular statement granted them the opportunity to come and liaise with him and he has assured the team of lawyers that the Commission would make available the documents.
Yusuf said however, that the INEC chairman granted the party’s request for its lawyers to assess the 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, they’ll tell us, so that our members nationwide and worldwide will be satisfied that we are doing our job and that they are ready to prosecute this case accordingly,” he said.