The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has accused the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and the opposition party of refusing to pay the required fees for the certification of the election documents they requested in order to prosecute their petition before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
According to INEC’s lead lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), the head of the Labour Party’s legal team, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), stated in a letter that his clients were unwilling to pay the N1.5 million requested for the certification of documents pertaining to Sokoto State.
INEC stated that their refusal to pay the required fees was the reason for the delay in the release of the remaining presidential election documents in Sokoto and Rivers States.
At the resumed hearing of the petition by Obi and LP, Mahmoud told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that his client (INEC) was willing and ready to release the requested documents once the stipulated fees were paid.
He also accused the Labour Party of abandoning a meeting called by the parties to sort out documents to be submitted as exhibits in the case.
Earlier, Uzoukwu told the court that INEC was making it difficult for his clients to obtain the election documents needed to prosecute their case before the Court.
He claimed to have written five letters, visited INEC headquarters, and even met with the INEC Chairman about the matter, all to no avail. He asked the court to order INEC to release the documents, including Form EC8A, to the petitioners.
He also denied that the petitioners’ team walked out of the meeting, as the INEC lawyer claimed.
Lawyers for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the President-elect and Vice President-elect, Woke Olanipekun (SAN) and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), noted that from Mahmoud’s account, it was clear that the delay in the release of the remaining documents was due to the petitioners’ failure to pay the required fees.
The court has continued the petition’s pre-hearing session until Friday.