2023 Elections: INEC Chairman, Bows To LP, Promises To Provide Documents Demanded

 By Our Reporter

 Barely two weeks after the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popula Jagaban, a former governor of Lagos state and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate, for the February 25, 2023, Presidential election, by Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for  polling 8,794,793 votes , the Commission  which had been talking tough to frustrate the Labour Party , LP, and Peter Obi, its Presidential Candidate, appears to have soft pedaled.

The Electoral umpire which had repeatedly boasted that it won’t abdicate its core responsibility as regulator of Political parties   to aggrieved parties is now singing a different tune.  The Commission had reeled out figures   showing that during the just concluded Presidential election the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in conjunction with Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and the party  Flag bearer,  ha   deployed a total of 176,588 polling agents  and the APC, 176,223 , polling agents , across the country.

Festus Okoye, the Commision’s National Commissioner, Information and Vter’s Education, who had  appeared on a  recent  Channels Television Programme,  had said that Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano state and Candidate of the New Nigeria’s People’s Party, NNPP, and his party, had deployed  176,200  polling agents to Obi while the LP had 134,874 polling agents.

The INEC, spokesperson at the instance of the National Chairman may have released the figures, of each party’s polling agents, across the country, to prove a point that the former Anambra state governor has no basis to claim that he won the just concluded Presidential election.

Obi: Aggrieved LP, Presidential Candidate

Not bothered by the figures rolled out by INEC, to win public support and force Obi, the LP, Candidate to drop his legal battle against the Commission and the President-elect, the former Anambra state governor who had appeared in a Channel programme, recently has given his words that he is ‘’challenging both the process of INEC and its declaration of  Tinubu, the APC, Presidential Candidate, as the President –elect’’.

Prof Yakubu, the electoral umpire boss, may have known that there is fire on the mountain as the LP, legal team had visited him at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT where they had a closed door meeting. The INEC  Chairman, who  was initially  reluctant to allow the party inspect the sensitive electoral materials and the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System , BVAS, used during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, as ordered by an Abuja based Court of Appeal ,  was said to have assured  the party legal team  of the Commission’s readiness ‘’to provide  all the documents  needed  to prosecute its  case at the Presidential election tribunal’’.

He was said to have told the LP, Legal team, that ‘’documents available at the Headquarters will be given to them immediately’’. He was said to have kept to his words. Given the seriousness of the case, the INEC boss, was said to have held a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, on Monday, March 13, 2023.

 The INEC Management  team an RECs at the meeting  were said to have discussed how other documents  at the state level which have   not yet been  made available to the Headquarters  to start the   process of inspection of the INEC sensitive materials and BVAS, use in the last elections by  the aggrieved LP , to be made available.The INEC Leadership may have  changed its hardline position against the LP that there is trouble ahead.as he may have read the handwriting  on  the wall  that there is trouble ahead.    Yunusa Tanko, the LP, spokesperson, HAD threatened that they will to call out the party supporters, to march  to the Commission’s  offices nationwide  in an Non-violent protest  which is allowed by Law.

Recall that Tinubu, the President-elect , who has been asked by Pa Ayo Adebajo, the Afenifere , a Yoruba, socio-political  Organisation , to return the Certificate of Return , issued him by INEC, as he never won the Presidential  election.

Tinubu: President-Elect, Fails To Meet APC ,Senators-Elect And Member Of House Reps.-Elect

He was scheduled to meet   the APC, Senators’- elect and members of the House of Representatives- elect, at the Aso Rock Vila, last Monday, alongside the party Leadership, but failed to show up. He was said to have sent, Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state and the Vice President –elect to meet with  the newly elected National Assembly Lawmakers, in conjunction with the party National Executive Council, NEC.  The former Lagos state, who had also approached the Court of Appeal, to be issued orders to inspect the electoral materials and BVAS, used during the elections, may have occupied himself with the Legal matters.

Already,  the LP , Legal team,  has written the INEC Chairman , to notify him  of the Court  order compelling  the Commission  to upload results  electronically  from polling units  in real time. Aware of the implications of not obeying the Court order, the Commission had said that  ‘’it will  allow  wise  counsel to prevail  in compliance with  the compelling  orders of the Court  as  contained  in its judgment’’.  

For the conduct of the governorship and state Assembly elections earlier scheduled for March 11, 20233 and later postponed to March 18, 2023,    the Court was said to have ordered INEC, to engage the services  of non-partisan  independent , competent  and reliable logistic entities or companies  for the distribution  of electoral materials  and personnel I Lagos, home state of Tnubu, the Presdent –elect.

Until Justice P.O. Lifu, passed the Judgment,  Justice  Chukwujekwu  Aneke of the Federal High Court  in Lagos, has granted  the LP,  sekeing an order  to bar  INEC, from using  Musliu Akinsanya, popular, MC Oluomo,  Chairman of Lagos  arks and Garages, from distributing  electoral mateials in the state .  

The party had sought  a Court order  to bar  Oluomo from participating  in the distribution  of electoral materials  in the  state.country’s Commercial nerve centre. The Court had acceded to the request of the LP, to restrain INEC, from engaging the services of Oluomo, known in political circles in the state as one of Tinubu’s reliable foot soldiers, to distribute election materials to avoid doing APC’s bidding and to create a level playing field for all the parties governor ship and State Assembly Candidates in the south western state.

Perhaps, to ensure that the Court order is fully complied with in the upcoming governorship and state Assembly elections in the state, Justice Lifu Judgment was said to have been copied Olusegun Agbaje, the state REC.   Obidients , as Obi supporters are called , expect what happened during the Presidential,  where the LP, had clinched Lagos, during the Presidential election , to repeat itself in the governor a and state Assemblly elections on March 18, 2023, to tell Tinubu, the President –elect, that Lagos is not his exclusive preserve to determine who  becomes the governor at every election. Bukunor Akerele, Tinu’s , Deputy, when he was governor of the state and the Leadership of Afenifere, were said  to have thrown their weiht  behind Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the LP, governorship Candidate in the state  for the March 18, 2023, election. The 40 year-old, who is from a family of Lawyers, said his life is under threats and several  assassination attempts made on his life by political thugs.    

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