We’ll make documents available to all parties – INEC

Meanwhile, INEC has promised not to take sides in the expected legal battle, saying that it will make documents available to all parties if called upon to do so.

But the commission also said that it would defend its actions during the elections.

INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Asked how prepared the commission was concerning plan by Mr Atiku Abubarkar and PDP to go to court, he said the commission was not a political party and would not take a partisan posture in relation to the election petitions tribunal.

Okoye said, “Independent National Electoral Commission is empowered to organise, conduct and supervise elections. The commission is not a political party and does not take a partisan posture in relation to election petitions.

“The commission is the regulator of political parties and the law and the constitution has delineated the jurisdiction of election petitions tribunal and the conditions for activating its jurisdiction.

“The commission conducted Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, 2019 and Chief Electoral Commissioner of Nigeria and the Returning Officer for the Presidential election, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, declared incumbent President as winner of the election and declared him as duly elected.

“The commission organised a relatively peaceful election and complied substantially with the intendment of the constitution and the law.

“However, it is the constitutional and statutory right of every aggrieved candidate to approach either National and state Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which has the original and exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether any person was validly elected to National Assembly or Court of Appeal which has original jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of the President or Vice-President under the constitution.

“INEC will defend the outcome of the election it conducted if it is served with processes from the tribunals or the Court of Appeal.

“The commission will make available all documents used in the conduct of elections to petitioners and respondents if the proper application is made and the processes and procedure for the application are followed.

“The commission has almost completed the reverse logistics in relation to Presidential and National Assembly elections and the documents used in the conduct of the elections are in safe custody in the various offices of the commission.”

Okoye added that the commission must purge the smart card readers and reconfigure them for the conduct of governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.

This, he said, would not affect any petition by either political parties or individuals before the tribunal.

He said, “What petitioners need are data from the smart card readers which will be available to petitioners and respondents.

“Petitioners and respondents are assured that the commission will be professional and ethical in the handling of election petitions.

“The commission will not take issue with any political party but will respond to and investigate concrete allegations backed by evidence and not general allegations made without any shred of evidence.”

 

Punch 

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