By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, yesterday, formally challenged the outcome of the 2011 Presidential election, before an election petition tribunal sitting at the premises of the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court.
The party which perfected the filing processes through its lead counsel, Chief Ricky Tarfa, SAN, yesterday evening, alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, attempted to frustrate its bid to challenge the election result in court by failing to fulfill its promise via a letter dated April 18, agreeing to furnish it with all ballot papers and result sheets used in the election.
The CPC is seeking a nullification of the cumulative result of the April 16 presidential election, which it insisted was not the true reflection of what transpired at the various polling centres across the federation.
It specifically alleged that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, conspired with some dubious electoral officers and massively allocated votes in favour of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Going by the express provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 and the 1999 Constitution as amended, the CPC would have been foreclosed from filing its petition again if it had failed to do so within 21 days after the presidential election result was announced by the electoral umpire, a date that expires today.
It maintained that INEC’s refusal to comply with the provision of section 151 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, and make available all ballot papers and result sheets used during the just concluded presidential election, further calls to question the 22,495,187 votes announced in favour of President Jonathan, on April 18, by the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.
While insisting that its Presidential flag-bearer, Muhammadu Buhari, garnered more than the 12,214,853 votes allocated to him by the electoral body, it alleged that a formal forensic examination of the ballot papers, would further reveal what it termed “a most sordid electoral fraud ever known to man.”
It said though INEC ab-initio agreed to make available to it, these sensitive electoral materials that it said were in safe custody, upon payment of the necessary fees, but that INEC, however, declined to disclose the required amount.
“Since we demanded the amount of the fees to be paid and to which account., the INEC headquarters that had all along assumed responsibility, directed us to liaise with the various State INEC.
“It was this buck_passing that compelled us to seek judicial order for INEC to ensure the sanctity and fidelity of these sensitive materials and make same available to us, according to section 151 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). It is our considered hope and desire that INEC shall abide and be seen to abide with judicial rulings in respect of this case.
“With any iota of doubt, the decision to seek judicial redress is not for anything but the establishment of the truth and inexorably, enriching the nation’s jurisprudence”, the party stated.
It would be recalled that CPC had on Friday, gone before the presidential election petition tribunal, asking it to compel INEC and all its Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC’s,
to furnish it with certain documents and material evidences that it said would be pivotal to the success of its petition against the cumulative result that was declared by the electoral empire in favour of the ruling PDP.
Those it Joined as defendants in the suit were INEC, Prof Jega, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, his running mate, Architect Namadi Sambo, the PDP, and all the Resident Electoral Commissioners for the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory ,FCT.
According to an ex_parte motion filed pursuant to Sections 77(1) and 151 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Order 26 Rule 8 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2009, the opposition party specifically sought an order directing all the respondents to seal all the Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDC machines), ballot papers, as well as the ballot boxes used in the Presidential Election held on the 16th day of April, 2011, with a view to preserving same for Forensic test in the course of hearing a petition it is yet to file before the tribunal.
CPC in its ex_parte motion, sought an order directing the1st and 2nd respondents, INEC and Prof Jega, to produce for inspection of the applicant and permitting the applicant to take copies of the documents/materials/ballot papers used in the conduct of the Presidential Election held on Saturday the 16th day of April, 2011.
“An order of the Honorable Tribunal directing the 1st and 2nd respondents to allow access to the petitioner, her solicitors, her agents and her biometric experts access to Biometric Data base of all registered voters in Nigeria in the presence of the respondents for the purpose of cross checking the finger prints on the face of the Ballot Papers cast in the States, Local Government, Wards , Polling units in respect of complaints in this petition and to compare them with finger prints, entries in the Biometric Database already in the custody of 1st respondent for the purpose of making analysis for use in evidence before this Honorable Tribunal.
“An order of the Honorable Court directing the 1st,2nd and 4th _42nd respondents to provide to the applicant for its use for its petition, the list of INEC officials and ad hoc staff containing their names addresses, occupations and other designations of the said officers and staff used in the presidential election across the nation.
“An order of this Honorable Court directing the 1st, 2nd and 4th_42nd respondents to provide to the applicant for its use for its petition, the list of local contractors engaged by INEC to print ballot papers used in the Presidential Election and copies of contract papers used in the Presidential election and copies of contract papers executed by INEC evidencing the awards of the contract to them.
As well as “an order of this Honorable court directing the 1st, 2nd, and 4th_42nd respondents to provide to the applicant for its use for its petition, guidelines and manuals issued by INEC for the conduct of 2011 General Election”.