Jonathan and Buhari in Fresh Row!

Ripples over alleged plot to disallow CPC access to April poll materials -I have no cause to conspire with INEC to frustrate Buhari, says Jonathan -INEC says court will decide the truth

THERE are fresh ripples over alleged plot to disallow the former presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, from having access to election materials used for the April presidential election. President Goodluck Jonathan, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are alleged to be behind  the plot. 

But counsel to the President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) said Jonathan has no cause to conspire with anybody to prevent Buhari from conducting forensic analysis. Also, INEC said although it has done its best to satisfy the request of all litigants before election tribunals, it will amount to subjudice to respond to Buhari's application before the Presidential Election Tribunal. 

A top source in CPC said: “Our party is suspecting that there is pressure on INEC from the presidency and the PDP to frustrate our plans to have access to electoral materials to conduct forensic analysis. “They are aware that elections did not hold in some areas and they cannot produce poll materials to add up. 

“We cannot understand why INEC which had earlier accepted to allow us access to poll documents, based on the order of the tribunal, has suddenly changed its tune. “The uncovering of the plot informed why our candidate filed a fresh application before the court specifically to ask the tribunal to declare him as the validly elected presidential candidate for April general elections. 

“The application was brought pursuant to Paragraph 18(11) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, Section 149 (d) of the Evidence Act.” In a swift reaction, Jonathan’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) said Buhari was crying wolf where there is none. He said: “It is only unfortunate that rather than the CPC concentrating on their petition  they are busy prosecuting their case on the pages of newspapers. 

“Let me tell you my dear, we have no reason to conspire with INEC or anybody to stop Buhari and CPC from having access to election materials.  I don’t believe that Jonathan has any cause to do that. Instead, the President has been prosecuting his case through his counsel diligently. “Since this case started, we have never for one day asked for an adjournment. It was the CPC that asked for extension of time for pre-hearing. And instead of asking for three days, they asked for 14 days. The court wanted to give a specific date for hearing, they asked for 14 days to extend the time for pre-hearing. 

“If they have not had access to election materials as they claimed, Nigerians should ask them what of oral witnesses, why don’t they start with that? We have not asked for a single adjournment but they have done that. “For a case that will be statute barred in November, we are still at the pre-hearing case because of the attitude of the CPC. Yet, it is only when pre-hearing closes that the court will now adjourn and write a report that will regulate the trial. 

“They sought some reliefs from the Court of Appeal but the court struck out two of these reliefs including their plea that the tribunal should order a re-run of the presidential poll. 
They have now appealed against the ruling of the Court of Appeal. As I am talking to you we have also filed an application before the Supreme Court that since their main prayer for a re-run poll has been struck out by the Court of Appeal, there is nothing to determine again by the Presidential Election Tribunal.

“Nigerians should appreciate what is at stake. The CPC is not saying that Buhari should be declared the winner of the last presidential election, they are asking for a re-run. And their major prayer for re-run has been rejected by the tribunal. What is left of their application at the tribunal will be a mere academic exercise. “Nobody is frustrating CPC but they are preoccupied with adjournment and trial on the pages of newspapers.” 

On his part, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said: “Since the matter is still in court, it is subjudice to make any comment. But I know that we have been fair to all parties.” Notwithstanding, Buhari is insisting that he should be declared the winner of the poll since INEC has denied him access to election materials for forensic analysis. 

In a document obtained last night, the CPC’s candidate gave the details of what transpired. He said: “The Applicant was not satisfied with the declared result and in consequence notified the 1st and 2nd Respondent of its decision to contest the declaration and reiterated its demand for election materials by its letter dated the 20th day of April, 2011, among others, a copy of which is shown to me and attached hereto as Exhibit 4 
“That 1st and 2nd Respondents denied the Petitioner’s request by failing to make copies of the requested election materials available to the Applicant and the Applicant was as a result forced to file an application dated the 15th May, 2011 for an order directing the 1st and 2nd Respondents to produce for the inspection of the Applicants and permitting it to take copies of the election material used in the conduct of the election. 

“That series of objections were filed by the Respondents by which the competence of the Petitioner’s petition was challenged after the grant of the order and exchange of petition and respective replies to the petition filed by the Respondents. “That the 3rd and 4th Respondents, the 5th Respondents and lastly the 1st, 2nd, 6th -42nd Respondents filed applications for preliminary objections to the Applicants petition on 23rd, June, 2011, 15th June, 2011 and 23rd June, 2011 respectively 

“That so much time was wasted in the cause of hearing the objections before they were eventually taken on the 6th day of July, 2011 save for the objection filed on behalf of the 1st, 2nd, 6th -42nd Respondents that was withdrawn and struck out. “That on the 14th day of July, 2011 this Honourable Tribunal adjudged the Applicant’s petition competent in a considered ruling. 

“That even though the order for inspection was granted early enough in the proceeding, the Applicants’ efforts to take advantage of the order was met with series of frustrations notwithstanding the ruling of the 14th day of July, 2011 by which the competence of the Applicant’s petition was sustained. “That the Petitioner was as a result not accorded access to the election materials and data base and a resolution was eventually passed that parties should have further recourse to this Honorable Court for the interpretation of the word access as used in the order of the Court dated the 24th day of May, 2011. 

“Meanwhile parties met on the 26th day of July 2011 with a view to commence the forensic exercise in the restricted manner convenient to Respondent while the broader interpretation of the word ‘access” was to be sought from Court, only for the Counsel for the (Counsel for the 4th and 5th Respondents) to demand for the further postponement of the exercise on the ground that the 4th and 5th 

“Respondent’s team of expert were not available for the meeting and they could not concede to the progress of the exercise in their absence. “That a further postponement of the meeting was reluctantly conceded to by the Applicant and the meeting was in consequence adjourned to the 8th day of August, 2011 to enable the 5th Respondent assembled its team of experts for the exercise. 

“That I was informed by Sama’ila Alasa Esq. one of the Applicant’s Counsel in this petition at about 12.30pm on  Monday, the 8th day of August, 2011 at the National Headquarters of the Applicant of Plot 1132, Festus Okotie Eboh Crescent, Utako District, Abuja and I verily believe him to be true and correct that the forensic exercise meeting of the 8th day of August 2011 was aborted largely by the Respondents and an affidavit of facts narrating the events that led to the abortion of the meeting of the 8th August, 2011 as deposed to by him is shown to me and attached hereto as Exhibit 14   

“That I was informed by Mr. Ocholi James (SAN) one of the Applicant’s lead Counsel in this petition at about 3 p.m on Thursday, the 4th day of August, 2011 at his office at No. 108, Idris Gidado Street, Wuye District, Abuja and I verily believe him to be true and correct as follows: 

“That the Respondents have manipulated the word access as used in the order of this Honorable Court to frustrate the inspection of the election materials. “That the order for inspection granted by this Honourable Court on the 24th day of May, 2011 is not being complied with by the Respondents. 

“That this Honourable Court can enter Judgment in favour of the Petitioner in the circumstances of the frustrations of the Court order by the Respondents