Controversy over server: 60 political parties defend INEC

•Claim PDP heating up polity

Some registered political parties on Tuesday took side with the Independent National Electoral Commission, ( INEC) over the controversy trailing the electronic transmission of results of the 2019 general elections.

The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had claimed that it won the last presidential election. It further claimed that the results posted on INEC website justified its stance.

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), sitting in Abuja on Monday denied the PDP access to the server and data of smart card reader the INEC allegedly used to compute the results of the 2019 presidential election.

Justice Mohammed Garba, in a ruling, rejected their application to inspect the materials INEC reportedly deployed in the conduct of the February 23 election.

He held that doing so would further create the impression that the tribunal had concluded that there was a central server where results of the February 23 election were received and stored.
Speaking with newsmen yesterday, the Joint Forum of 60 Presidential Candidates and National chairmen said since the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was not assented by President Muhammadu Buhari, there was no provision for electronic transmission of results in the electoral act that guided the conduct of the last general elections.

National chairman of APDA, Mohammed Shittu, who addressed journalists on behalf of his colleagues, accused the PDP of mischief as he declared that INEC had told presidential candidates that it would not be possible to transmit results electronically following the withholding of assent by the President.

He said:”In the buildup to the elections, we as Presidential candidates and our political parties held several meetings with INEC. The delay in finalizing the electoral legal framework and the eventual withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill deprived the nation of the much needed reform of our electoral process which must be anchored on the rule of law.

“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 withholding of assent by the President 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?”
Responding to the verdict of the European Union Election Observation Mission which noted that the electoral process in Nigeria fell short of global standards, the political parties decried the international body appraisal.

“Gentlemen of the press, having gathered as Presidential candidates and thoroughly x-rayed the 2019 election, the unfavourable and hostile environment the election management body operated under, and the extant laws under which the elections were conducted, have come to the emphatic conclusion that the INEC performed creditably well and we hereby unequivocally reaffirm our confidence in INEC for its performance against all odds in the conduct of the 2019 General Elections.”

“There were several innovations introduced by INEC which made the 2019 elections freer, fairer and more credible than what was obtainable in the past elections such as the simultaneous accreditation and voting; the introduction of assistive innovations for physically challenged voters; the Continuous Voter Registration which added fourteen (14) million new voters to the register were but a few of the innovations introduced by INEC.
“Therefore, the report of the European Union Election Observation Mission released over a week ago wherein they alleged a lack of transparency in the guidelines of election is bewildering. With all due respect to the EUEOM, it is left to Nigerians to decide how we conducted our 2019 general elections.”

In attendance were Chief Perry Opara, Joint Convener, Forum of 60 Presidential candidates; Dr Rabia Cengiz, national chairman/ presidential candidate, National Action Council; Barrister Charles Ogboji, national chairman, ANDP; Alhaji Isab Dansaki, national chairman/ presidential candidate, MMM, amongst others.