The Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has assured the Labour Party (LP’s) legal team of the commission’s readiness to provide all documents the party requested to prosecute its case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).
Yakubu gave the assurance when he received the 60 lawyers legal team of the LP presidential candidate, Mr Peter Gregory Obi, led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu on Monday in Abuja.
He also told the guests that the commission would also meet with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to work out modalities for the inspection of materials in the states.
“We received a letter from Uzoukwu (SAN) on behalf of the Labour Party. The letter is dated March 6, in the letter we were served notice that the team will be here on the seventh at nine in the morning to inspect the materials but most specifically, the letter requested us to get in touch with our resident electoral commissioners across the 37 states of the federation to make the documents and information available for the prosecution of their petition.
“A meeting has been scheduled with all the RECs and is going to be a virtual meeting at 3pm, today, which we will discuss among other issues, this matter of providing CTCs not only to the Labour Party, but to all other litigants as well.
“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,” Yakubu said.
According to him, there were two categories of documents those that are in possession of the headquarters of INEC, and that these documents would be made available to them.
“Specifically the EC8Ds from the states and the ECD A, which is the collation at the national collection centre by the commission itself. The EC8E, the declaration, so many, a total of, I think 39 documents, this we can easily certify and give you almost immediately.
“As for other documents that we are asking for they are at state level, so we need to work out the schedule so that we know when your team is going to which state and on which date so that we can easily facilitate not just certification of documents, but also the inspection that you requested for each of these documents,” Yakubu said.
The INEC boss also said that the other document is accreditation data from the back end and that this will also be made available to them.
He said, “Remember that the accreditation data covers over 176,000 polling units (PUs). We have to print them physically certify them, and give them to you, so the tall and short of what I’m saying is that you will get this document speedily.
“They will also make arrangements and notify our RECs of your intended visit so that these documents will be made available to you those that are at the level, including access to inspection of any category of materials.
“So I crave your indulgence to suggest that let your team interface with the legal team of the commission immediately. So you work these things out and then we make all the documents available to you.
“But please be assured, the lead counsel that INEC has nothing to hide. Whatever you’re asking for will be made available to you. So that whatever we need to facilitate as a commission so that you get this document that you require as a matter of urgency, I want to assure you that you will get them as a matter of urgency.”
On his part, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), said the team came to INEC because they had not received any electoral stocks for inspection on behalf of their clients, and especially that election petition is time sensitive.
“We have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients. 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 a documents apart from that.
“The Court of Appeal made an order on the March 3, to INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any hence we requested for a meeting with the chairman of the commission.
He 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.
“So we believe that that will happen and we are leaving here rest assured that by the time we leave INEC premises at least we will leave with some documents, the rest can then come from tomorrow and so on and so forth,” Uzoukwu said.