Why we’re not speaking on Atiku’s petition, APC’s response – INEC

File photo of Former Vice President and chieftain of PDP, Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari
File photo of Former Vice President and chieftain of PDP, Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it will not canvass in the media matters that are sub-judice.

The commission said this in reaction to the recent exchange of words between the two major parties on the case before the presidential election petition tribunal.

In a statement on Monday by its national commissioner, Festus Okoye, the commission said it will not do so because it is a law-abiding body.

“The commission is a Iaw-abiding institution and will not argue or canvass in the media, petitions that are sub-judice and where the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is firmly seized of the issues.

“The commission is a law-abiding institution and will continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of court.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, who ran as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won the presidential election after polling 15,191,847 to beat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 11,262,978 votes.

Mr Abubakar, however, is challenging the victory of the president at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with a 139-page document.

He claims he polled 18,356,732 votes while Buhari recorded 16,741,430 from the data in INEC’s server.

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But INEC denied this saying PDP’s claim is false.

The APC has urged the tribunal to dismiss PDP’s petition for incompetence. It argued that Section 131(a) of the Constitution stipulates that a person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth to be qualified to contest for the office of the President.

“Atiku is not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed in the first place to contest the election,” the ruling party said.

In response, Mr Abubakar said the APC does not deserve a response from him over its claim that he was not born a Nigerian.

In a statement on Saturday, Paul Ibe, Mr Abubakar’s media adviser, said such “ridiculous defence” from the APC to his statistical claims “shows to Nigerians the type of characters we have in the APC.”

He also said the legitimacy of the APC government runs out on May 29.

INEC said it is aware there are issues and it has, as a respondent, responded to the petitions.

“The Commission is also aware that issues have been joined in the said petitions as the petitioners have filed their petitions and the respondents have responded to the petitions.

“The Commission as one of the respondents in the Petition filed by the PDP and its Presidential Candidate has responded to the said Petition.”

The commission believes if there is a need for any action, the lawyers representing the petitioners know what to do.

“The lawyers representing the petitioners are seized of the state of the law and the course to take if they truly believe that the Commission is in disobedience of the orders of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.”

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