The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday reacted to the statement by the legal team of the Labour Party and its candidate, Peter Obi suggesting that the commission has refused to respond to the subpoenas served on them.
The LP and Obi in a petition marked CA/PEC/03/2023 are challenging the outcome of the presidential election wherein Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress was declared the elected president by INEC.
During the proceedings, the petitioners had previously stated that the electoral commission had denied them access to some sensitive documents which are germane to their pleadings.
While moving the motion for adjournment of the hearing on Wednesday afternoon, counsel for the petitioners, Livy Uzoukwu SAN again complained to the Presidential Election Petition Court that despite the effort made to access documents under the commission, INEC has “consistently refused…the subpoena to produce documents.”
He further said that he had to draw the attention of the lead counsel for INEC, A.B Mahmoud who assured him that the commission would comply.
Displeased with the statement that implied that his client was uncooperative, counsel for INEC, Kemi Pinhero SAN who conducted Wednesday’s proceedings on behalf of the electoral body countered the assertion.
He accused the petitioners of constantly blaming them for withholding documents from them and urged them to desist from the “habit”.
He said, “Don’t use INEC as a whipping boy.”
He said he was unaware of any discussion Uzoukwu SAN may have had with their lead counsel, Mahmoud, to warrant the statement.
“It has become a habit for them to look for somebody to whip. I am not privy to any discussion he has had with A.B. Mahmoud.”
“It can’t be true that the receipt or the subpoena were refused.”
“It has become a habit for them to blame INEC or say that INEC has refused to release documents to them.
“It is not correct that the office of the chairman will refuse to respond to the subpoena. The chairman of INEC has no interest whatsoever. It is unfair to INEC.”
“If they have nothing else to do today, they should just say it.”
In response to the reaction, Uzoukwu maintained his stance and informed the court that his claims can easily be verified.
Following the argument between the two parties, the Presidential Election Petition Court headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani advised them to calm their frayed nerves.
The court thereafter adjourned the matter to June 15 for continuation of the hearing.