The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has raised the alarm over an alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to destroy evidence contained in the BVAS machine under the guise of reconfiguration.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, raised the alarm at a press conference in Abuja, late on Tuesday.
“We have called you to alert Nigerians and the international community of the atrocious move by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to destroy and erase evidence of its intolerable rigging of the February 25 Presidential election.
“Late yesterday at 10:10p.m., INEC, in a desperate move to prevent our Party and Candidate from obtaining necessary evidence as Ordered by the Court, filed a motion requesting that it be allowed to reconfigure the BVAS machines and wipe out relevant information that our party and candidate require to prosecute our case at the Presidential Election Tribunal.
“This reprehensible action by INEC to frustrate the desire of Nigerians to get redress through the court is a clear recipe for crisis and a deliberate design by the Commission to derail our democracy and trigger anarchy in the country,” he said.
Ologunagba invited Nigerians to recall how the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu superintended over the manipulation of the results of the presidential election and hurriedly announced a winner in spite of widespread outcry and complain over numerous evidence of malpractices and violation of several provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 by INEC and its officials.
The PDP spokesman further said, “The INEC Chairman bypassed all the steps and procedures provided by the Electoral Act 2022 for the declaration of results, including to announce and declare only results that were transmitted directly from the polling units to the INEC server/website and to review the results in the event of disputes and objections as to the correctness and consistency of the collated result.
“For emphasis Section 64 (6) of the Electoral Act clearly states that: ‘(6) Where during collation of results, there is a dispute regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or returning officer shall use the following to determine the correctness of the disputed result-
“(a) the original of the disputed collated result for each polling unit where the election is disputed;
“(b)the smart card reader or other technology device used for accreditation of voters in each polling unit where the election is disputed for the purpose of obtaining accreditation data directly from the smart card reader or technology device.
“(c) data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47 (2) of this Act
“(d) the votes and result of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed, as prescribed under section 60 (4) of this Act.
“Furthermore, Section 65 (1)(c) of the Electoral Act, 2022 states as follows;
“S. 65.-(1) The decision of the returning officer shall be final on any question arising from or relating to-…. (c) declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate;
“Provided that the Commission shall have the power within seven days to review the declaration and return where the Commission determines that the said declaration and return was not made voluntarily or was made contrary to the provisions of the law, regulations and guidelines, and manual for the election,” he added.
Instead of being guided by the law, the INEC Chairman brazenly announced and declared results that were not transmitted directly from the polling units to INEC’s server/website while ignoring the objections and complaints raised during the collation in complete disregard to the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Ologunagba noted that despite what he called this provocative act of the INEC Chairman, the PDP as a law-abiding party approached the court and obtained an Order directing INEC to, among other things:
“Grant our party and candidate unrestrained access to carry out a forensic examination of the ballot papers, data forms, BVAS/and or card readers and all other necessary information, material and evidence to get redress for Nigerians at the Election Tribunal.”
He declared that the court order obviously jolted INEC into panic mode, which led the election management body to rush to court to file a motion requesting the court to allow it reconfigure the BVAS devices with the view to erasing the information contained therein.
The opposition party said further, “In the obnoxious motion, INEC admitted that the ‘BVAS application stores the accreditation data for all voters accredited on the device for the presidential, senatorial districts and House of Representatives elections conducted on the February 25” and that the reconfiguration of the BVAS devices ‘entails purging the accreditation data on the BVAS devices‘.”
This action by INEC, he said, “is vexatious, provocative and only points to the impunity and culpability of the Commission with regards to the reported manipulations and alteration of results to deny our party and its candidate their victory at the presidential election.”
Ologunagba reiterated that this situation further validates the fact that “our party and presidential candidate won the February 25 presidential election based on the actual votes cast at the polling units.”
He argued that if INEC had nothing to hide, why was it in a hurry to declare manipulated results without recourse to the provisions of the Electoral Act and without consideration of the disputes, objections and complaints raised by parties during the collation process?
“Why is INEC panicky and desperate to erase the data in the BVAS if not that they contain evidence of malpractices and its culpability in the election?” Ologunagba queried.
He maintained that the PDP, as a law-abiding party, will continue to pursue the matter in accordance with the law.
“We believe that despite the shenanigans by INEC, justice will be served at the end of the day,” he added.