Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari should not celebrate yet over the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Independent National Election Commission’s (INEC) central server.
He said contrary to the position of the Presidency, the tribunal did not reject his request to inspect INEC’s central server.
The former vice president spoke as 60 presidential candidates described the controversy over INEC’s server as a plot to discredit the 2019 polls
Atiku, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, was reacting to a statement from the Presidency hailing the tribunal ruling.
He explained that what the tribunal said was that granting him access to the server was not relevant at the moment, as his petition on the declaration of President Buhari as winner of the presidential poll was still at the preliminary stage.
The statement read in part: “Let us educate the spokespersons of General Muhammadu Buhari on what yesterday’s (Monday) judgment actually says. The request by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party to inspect the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission was not rejected.
“What the honourable tribunal said is that it is still at preliminary stages and the main case has not begun and that the matter of granting access to inspect the INEC server is not relevant to the preliminary stages. It is a matter to be adjudicated upon when the case proper is being heard.
“As such, the celebration by the administration of General Buhari that their electoral heist has been covered is premature. Their giddiness has even blinded them to the eyewitness testimony given to mzultiple media in interviews by staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission that there is indeed a server and that they actually submitted results and accreditation through it.
“In their rush to claim a Pyrrhic victory, the General Buhari administration missed out the fact that the 2019 budget has multiple line items for procurement, maintenance and service of the server they claim does not exist…
“In the light of this, we remind those who are gloating in their ignorance that ‘he who laughs last, laughs best’.
“The last has not been heard of this matter and we eagerly anticipate the actual ruling of the Tribunal when the case proper begins.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of presidential candidates that participated in the 2019 general elections has said the controversy over the alleged electronic transmission of results to the central server of INEC during the February 28 presidential poll is intended to discredit election.
The presidential candidate of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), Shittu Mohammed, spoke on behalf of the coalition, at a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday.
The PDP and INEC have been on a warpath over the existence of a central server allegedly used by the electoral body for the conduct of the 2019 presidential poll.
While the opposition party insists that results were electronically transmitted to the server, INEC said nothing of such happened
However, Mohammed, who is also the National Chairman of APDA stated that INEC, in one of its engagements, had informed political parties that the absence of a new electoral law will make it impossible for the commission to electronically transmit results from the field to the headquarters.
“The needless controversy over the INEC server would have been lawful as it would have been mandatory for the Commission to deploy the server. We are aware that INEC had run pilots on electronic transmission of results. It had informed us that these pilots were deployed in Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections.
“However, INEC informed all political parties in the election following the non-passage of the Electoral Act that it would not deploy the electronic transmission of results since it would not be lawful to do so.
“We must inform Nigerians now that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was represented in those meetings and we do not know why they are heating up the polity with the server story.
“This INEC server controversy is a deliberate ploy to destroy the integrity of our electoral process. Can the so-called results from the server be referred to as credible where INEC could not have legitimately transmitted results of the presidential or any of the other elections electronically?” Mohammed queried.
Furthermore, the APDA chairman stated that the coalition have thoroughly examined the conduct of the 2019 general elections and came to the conclusion that INEC performed creditably.
Regardless, he called on the National Assembly to urgently revisit the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which was passed by the eighth Assembly, noting that the bill, if signed into law, will enhance the electoral process in the country.
The National Chairman of National Unity Party (NUP), Chief Perry Opara, who also spoke, urged politicians to always seek redress in court whenever there were issues, as a way of growing democracy in the country.