Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Monday, backed the Labour PARTY (LP) on its planned nationwide protest at the offices of the Independent National Electoral COMMISSION (INEC) to compel the electoral body to grant LP’s lawyers access to the bimodal voter accreditation system and other electoral materials used in the contentious February 25 presidential election.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said INEC is in serious disobedience to the order of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja also the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal which granted the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legal access to electoral items used at the polls last month.
The group urged the Labour Party and the PDP to commence contempt proceedings against INEC officials starting with the chairman, Mahmood Yakubu and INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, amongst others.
HURIWA stated that INEC can’t cherry pick the judgement of the court it will obey, saying that it is hypocrisy of the highest order for INEC to comply with the decision of the court that allowed it to reconfigure the BVAS machines deployed in the over 170,000 polling units but disobey the court’s judgement allowing the LP and the PDP to access electoral items.
The LP had faulted the commission’s claim of backing up the data retrieved from the BVAS without the presence of independent witnesses and representatives of political parties.
Okoye, on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics last night, insisted that the request by the Labour Party to monitor the commission’s process of reconfiguring and backing up results on its BVAS machines would not be granted.
He also said the commission is the regulator of political parties and the political parties cannot checkmate the activities of the commission even when they are illegal and an affront to the Electoral Act and the court of law.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “INEC is in serious disobedience of the Court of Appeal order to LP and PDP to inspect materials used for the ill-fated Presidential election for the purposes of aiding their litigation.
“HURIWA denounces the arrogant action by INEC and encourages LP and PDP supporters to flood the headquarters of INEC in protest until the commission obeys the law. Also, contempt proceedings should be commenced against INEC officials.
“At this juncture, it is important to ask if INEC is still cooking up the results that it doesn’t want to obey the court order for inspection of the results by the political parties who disagree with the announced result? INEC can’t cherry pick the orders of the court it obeys. It is hypocrisy to obey the order on BVAS reconfiguration and disobey the one that grant the parties access to electoral items.”