On the 3rd of March 2023, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja granted Mr Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, access to all the sensitive materials that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deployed for the conduct of the presidential election held on 25 February. Justice Joseph Ikyegh, who led a panel of the appellate court, ordered INEC to allow Mr Obi to inspect the electoral materials.
However, thingstoknow learned that INEC has refused to comply with the court order. The commission has refused to release the materials to the Labour Party, despite several requests from Mr Obi’s legal team. The party’s lawyers have accused INEC of withholding the documents to cover up irregularities that occurred during the election.
In a recent development, the Legal and IT Expert of the Labour Party met with INEC at its headquarters on the 13th of March 2023. During the meeting, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the Labour Party’s legal team that the commission would provide all the documents they had requested to prosecute their case.
He said, “INEC has nothing to hide. Documents available at the HQ will be given immediately. We are meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners today, and we will discuss how other documents at the state level could also be made available to you speedily.”
The Labour Party’s legal team was at the INEC HQ to discuss the modalities for obtaining the documents. However, it remains unclear when INEC will release the materials to the party. The refusal to release the election materials has led to concerns among Nigerians about the transparency and fairness of the electoral process.
Meanwhile, Mr Peter Obi, who came 3rd in the presidential election, has stated categorically that he is challenging the INEC electoral process that led to the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect, as well as the declaration itself, at the Presidential Elections Tribunal (PET).
Mr Obi’s decision to challenge the electoral process underscores the need for transparency and fairness in the electoral process. Nigerians are hoping that the court will uphold the rule of law and ensure that justice is served in the interest of the people.
The refusal by INEC to release the election materials to the Labour Party despite a court order raises questions about the commission’s commitment to transparency and fairness in the electoral process. Nigerians are hoping that the commission will comply with the court order and release the materials as soon as possible to enable the Labour Party to prosecute its case.