Obi, LP refusing to pay N1.5m to access documents requested, INEC tells tribunal

 


The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) says the Labour Party (LP) and Peter Obi, the presidential candidate, have refused to pay the N1.5 million demanded to access documents they are requesting.

 

Abubakar Mahmoud, counsel to INEC, spoke at the sitting of the presidential election petitions court on Wednesday.

 

Mahmoud was responding to claims by Levy Uzoukwu, counsel to the party and its candidate, that the commission has refused to release necessary documents requested by them to present as evidence in the suit challenging the outcome of the presidential election.

 

INEC REFUSING TO RELEASE 70% OF DOCUMENTS

Uzoukwu told the five-member panel of the court led by Haruna Tsammani, that INEC “stubbornly refused to produce 70 percent of the electoral documents that were requested”.

 

Specifically, Uzoukwu said electoral documents concerning the polls in Rivers and Sokoto states have been inaccessible.

 

For Sokoto state, Uzoukwu said the INEC officials demanded N1.5 million fee to process the documents.

 

 “A typical example is that of Rivers state, where the resident electoral commissioner boldly told us they do not have any form EC8A to give us,” the senior advocate said.

 

The lawyer said five letters have been sent to INEC alongside orders of the court made on March 3 and March 8 directing the electoral umpire to grant the petitioners access to inspect relevant electoral materials and make copies of them.

 

INEC DENIES THE ALLEGATION

 

Responding to the allegation, INEC’s lawyer said Obi’s legal team declined to attend a meeting that was called to streamline issues around documents to be tendered before the court.

 

 “We agreed to meet on Monday and Tuesday (15 and 16 May). But on Monday, May 15, I received a call that the Labour Party legal team had not turned up at the venue for the inspection of the documents,” Mahmoud told the court.

 

He said the LP was given some electoral documents in Rivers, “but they insisted on collecting all the documents that were required”.

 

“The commission has not refused to produce any document,” Mahmoud said.

 

The INEC counsel also said the representatives of the petitioners staged a walkout on the second day.

 

Lateef Fagbemi, APC’s lead lawyer,  aligned with INEC’s position concerning access to electoral documents.

 

Fagbemi said he would not be objecting to official documents tendered by INEC during the substantive hearing.

 

 “All public documents coming from INEC and duly certified will not be objected to, but other documents may be objected to with reasons given and arguments presented at the end of the day before judgement,” he said.

 

“We are ready and willing to cooperate with the court.”

 

Also, Wole Olanipekun, Tinubu’s lawyer, said he had no issues with accessing documents from the electoral umpire.

 

“We will reserve our objection to documents until the end of the trial,” Olanipekun said.

 

After listening to all parties in the petition, the court adjourned proceedings until  May 19.

 

The court asked lawyers in the suit to respond to all pending applications before the next adjourned date.

 

The court also reminded parties that the pre-hearing session is to last 14 days from the day of its commencement.

 

The court began its pre-hearing session on May 8.

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  1. INEC TRY AND MAKE US CITIZENS TO KNOW, THE REASON YOU ARE BEEN SIDED..

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