The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is allegedly refusing to allow the Labour Party (LP) access to inspect certified true copies of the materials used in the presidential election that was held on February 25, 2023, setting up a potentially explosive confrontation between the two parties.
The national leadership of the LP announced yesterday that if INEC disobeys the ruling of the presidential election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, which mandated that it be granted access to the election materials, the party will order its supporters across the country to stage a protest at all INEC offices in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election by INEC.
Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came in second with 6,984,520 votes, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) took third place with 6,101,533 votes, according to the chairman of the electoral board, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Atiku, Obi, and their political parties approached the presidential election tribunal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja after being disappointed with the results of the election, and they were granted access to the election documents by a court order.
The statewide protest outside INEC offices, according to a statement released by the Labour Party yesterday and signed by its general spokeswoman, Yunusa Tanko, will stop the commission’s brazen defiance of court rulings.
It claimed that INEC disobeyed the tribunal’s order, which was issued on March 3, 2023, and instructed its presidential candidate, Obi, to file for and obtain from INEC certified true copies of the materials used in the presidential election.
Tanko said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with greatest impunity have refused, neglected and failed to obey the Order of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja made on the 03rd day of March 2023, directing it to grant the Labour Party and its presidential candidate.
“We, therefore, want to state that we will not fail to call our supporters to march to INEC offices nationwide in a non-violent protest which is allowed by law.”
According to the declaration, INEC’s activity in question also effectively amounts to judicial insubordination and a deliberate failure to abide by the court’s ruling.
“As we speak, INEC has chosen to obey the court order given to it to reconfigure the BIVAS machine, which they doing right now and ignoring the order granted to us to inspect electoral materials.
“We, therefore call on the general public to note the level of lawlessness and brazen disobedience to a lawful order of a court by an important statutory agency such as INEC, which is a well-calculated attempt to undermine and frustrate the presentation of the Petition by the Labour Party and its Presidential candidate before the tribunal in good time,” Yunusa added.
Despite being present and represented at the tribunal when the Order was made, the Labour Party argued that INEC was properly served with the order on March 3, 2023.
Additionally, it stated that despite a letter of reminder being sent to the commission, the decision was not followed.
Yunusa continued: “Not minding the service of the said Order on INEC, and a reminder letter dated the 6th day of March 2023 and delivered the same date at the INEC Headquarters Abuja, the electoral umpire has continued to ignore and or disobey the valid Order of such magnitude till NOW.
“It should be noted that in a democracy like ours, the rule of law must triumph not only in our legal system but also in our body polity as a whole. Parties to a litigation like in the instant case must accept and obey every order of the court in good faith and no party should be seen to employ self-help to disparage or disrespect an order of the court which if not checked and curtailed could undermine our democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism”.