The Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is turning a blind eye to electoral fraud and wasting the country’s resources.
In their final statement submitted to the Presidential Election Petitions Court on July 23, 2023, Obi and the Labour Party stated that if the court does not hold INEC accountable for conducting elections fairly and independently, elections in Nigeria will continue to be tainted.
The Labour Party and Obi criticized INEC for neglecting its main duty of overseeing elections fairly and instead, favoring certain candidates in the elections it conducted.
They pointed out that INEC devoted a substantial part of its address to defending the qualifications of the 2nd respondent (Tinubu).
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Citing a previous case, Alechenu (2019) LPELR-49199 (CA), they criticized INEC for often obstructing access to election materials, even when ordered by the court to produce them. Obi and the LP accused INEC of acting in favour of the declared winner to hinder the petition.
Further, Obi asserted that INEC is obliged by the Electoral Act, 2022, the INEC Regulations and Guidelines, and the INEC Manual to use modern technology for the conduct of the 2023 General election.
The final address reads, “By this, INEC represented and assured that it would use Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the accreditation of voters in the polling units and the upload/transmission of the results of the election in real-time on the day of the election to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
“However, contrary to the requirement of the law and in manifest disregard of its own representations, the 1st respondent (INEC) abandoned and discarded the much-expected upload/transmission of the result of the election in real time on the day of the election from the polling unit to the IReV.
“Rather, and very strangely, blurred, unreadable and inaccessible documents/images were uploaded by the 1st respondent to the IReV purporting same to be the result of the election in various polling units. These blurred images and inaccessible documents were purported to be the result of the election in the polling units. The net result of the upload of the blurred images on the IReV was that the result of the election could neither be authenticated nor verified, and thus, lacked credibility and transparency.
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The 1st respondent’s contention that the ‘collation of the election result’ remained a manual process is patently false and seems to have disregarded the express provisions of the Electoral Act, Regulations and Manual for the election. Collation of election results at all the stages of the election process specifically provide for electronic transmission to the IReV which is part of the collation system under the Electoral Act.
The authority of the Federal High Court determination in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022 relied upon by the 1st respondent in its final address and heavily harped upon in its argument is per incuriam and in manifest contradiction of the binding later decision of the Supreme Court in Appeal No: SC/CV/508/2023, OYETOLA v. INEC delivered on 9th May 2023, in (2023) LPELR-60392 (SC).
“Despite the 1st respondent’s claim that the hardcopies of the forms EC8A were allegedly used for the manual collation of the election (which by that reasoning ought to be in the 1st respondent’s custody/possession), the 1 respondent nevertheless gave to the petitioners as certified copies of the electoral forms, including alleged forms EC8As, blurred/blank/extraneous copies.
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“The alleged hardcopies of the forms EC8A claimed to have been used for the manual collation were neither produced in court nor certified copies thereof tendered in court by the 1st respondent.”