Presidential Poll: We didn’t supply BVAS to INEC, APC replies Atiku

The All Progressives Congress, APC, has tackled the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the just concluded presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, accusing him of raising spurious and wild allegations in his bid to discredit the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The ruling party, in a fresh process it filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, said there was no truth in Atiku’s allegation that its leadership was involved in the supply of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines that INEC deployed for the conduct of the general elections.

APC said it was not aware that INEC procured the BVAS machines from a company belonging to one of its members, Senator Muhammed Sani Musa.

“That even if Senator Muhammed Sani Musa is a director of Actirate Technologies Limited, he has nothing to do with the operations and day-to-day activities of the company,” APC averred in a written statement on oath it filed to counter Atiku’s petition against its candidate and President-elect, Bola Tinubu.

The party further dismissed Atiku’s claim that INEC compromised by awarding contract for the production of sensitive materials that were used for the general elections, to a company owned by one of its chieftains.

Even though it admitted that a firm linked to its governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Aisha Dalhatu, got the contract to supply electoral materials to INEC, the ruling party insisted that the said contract did not affect the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

“That I know that Binami printing press limited had been involved in printing and supplies for serval years before the 2023 election.

“That I know that Aisha Dalhatu, through a director in Binami printing press limited, but only in a nominal sense as she was never involved in the day-to-day running and activities of the company.

“That there are other directors of Binami printing press limited who are responsible for the day–to–day running of the company and have nothing to do with politics.

“That the award of the contract for the supply of electoral materials to be used for the 2023 election to Binami printing press limited has nothing to do with Aisha Dalhatu who was the Gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Adamawa state for the 2023 general election.

Zuma Rock, Abuja

“That I know that Binami printing press limited is a separate and distant body from the person of Aisha Dalhatu.

“That the award of contracts of any kind marching supplies of materials by the 1st Respondent (INEC) always follows a due process that cannot be compromised.

“That the award of contracts for the supply of materials to Binami printing press limited followed due process and was purely on merit.

“That the award of contracts for the supply of materials to Binami printing press limited followed due process and was purely on merit.

“That I know as a fact that Binami printing press limited employs global best practices in all its operations marching duty of confidentiality to its numerous clients, including the 1st respondent.

“That the engagement of Binami printing press limited by the 1st respondent was based on competence and experience.

“That I know that the engagement of both Binami printing press limited and Actirate Technologies Limited by the 1st Respondent did not in any way affect the conduct of the election of 25th February, 2023 either in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents or any political party at all.

“That it is not true that the 3rd Respondent’s leadership were involved in the supply of BVAS and all or any electoral materials to the 1st respondent for the election of the 25th February 2023,” APC added.

While praying the court to dismiss Atiku’s petition, the APC argued that the presidential election that was won by its candidate, Tinubu, “met all the requirements of a credible election and reflected the will of the Nigerian electorate”.

It said the election was adjudged by independent and unbiased observers to be “credible and an assurance that Nigeria is on the path to its democratic glory”.

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It told the court that no reliable observer, “except those sponsored by the Petitioners and their collaborators, condemned the election due to the alleged failure to electronically transmit and upload the results in real time as wildly alleged by the Petitioners, when the Electoral Act and the Regulation and Guidelines for the conduct of the election has not made provisions for same”.

Besides, APC contended that the court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on allegations that Atiku and the PDP raised in their petition, which it said lacked necessary facts or particulars as required by Paragraph 4(1)(d) of the Rules of procedure for election petition (First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022).

On the issue of qualification, the APC listed Tinubu’s Academic certificates as part of documents it will enter in evidence before the court, saying Atiku’s contention was “vague, bare and meaningless as having the constitutional threshold is not part of the requirement to contest an election”.

It said Atiku’s petition was devoid of necessary particulars/information to support allegation of corrupt practices, violence and non – compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act.

“The 2nd Respondent (Tinubu) was duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the presidential election held on 25th February, 2023 and scored the highest number of votes as well as one quarter of lawful votes at the election in each of at least two – thirds of all the states in the Federation.

“Respondent denies the allegation contained in paragraph 33 of the petition that the 1st Respondent (INEC) employed a third-party device or any device at all for the purpose of intercepting, quarantining, warehousing and filtering election results before releasing same to the IRev portal. The Petitioners are put to the strictest proof of the allegations.

“Respondent denies paragraphs 34 of the Petition, and avers further that the 1st Respondent complied with the prescribed procedure for the election and deployment of technology in respect thereof. The Petitioners are put to the strictest proof of the averments therein.

“It is not correct that the glitch or technical issue disclosed by the 1st Respondent was a bypass to tilt and switch the results of the Presidential Election in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents as nothing of such happened;

“With specific reference to paragraph 38 alleging that INEC must electronically transmit the result from pooling units, Respondent states and will show that in keeping with discretion given to INEC by the Electoral Act, 2022 as to mode of transfer or delivery of election results from polling units to the Registration Areas (ward) collation center, INEC expressly notified all political parties and the general public three clear days to the 25th February, 2023 presidential election that raw votes would not be electronically transmitted as would have been the case under Paragraph 38 (i) of the Electoral Regulations and Guidelines, 2022 and besides, no time line or deadline was given within which to transmit the result. The Respondent plead the press release by the chairman of the 1st Respondent.

“The 1st Respondent did not use any device manager to quarantine results from the polling unit prior to transmission to its portal and there was no room and as a matter of fact, the 1st Respondent did not upload any wrong result.

“Respondent shall further contend during the hearing of this Petition that the Petitioners claim of being winner of the election is a direct violation of human sensibilities as the agitation in paragraph 52 of the Petition that the entire presidential election of 25 February, 2022 is unlawful, illegal, wrongful, null, void and same is inconsistent with the claim that the Petitioners ought to be returned as winners of the election”.

More so, the APC told the court that contrary to Atiku’s claim in his petition, it was not a mandatory requirement of the Constitution for a candidate to score twenty-five percent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory to be declared elected as President.

“It is sufficient if a candidate for election as President scores the highest number of votes cast at the election and has not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation as is the case in the instant election.

“A candidate who scored majority of the votes cast at a Presidential Election and secured one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation, need NOT obtained twenty-five percent of the votes cast in the FCT to be entitled to be declared winner of the election.

“The inclusion or addition of the FCT, Abuja, by the provision of the Constitution did not attach special or unique condition or recognition to the Federal Capital Territory but to give Federal Capital Territory parallel recognition with other states of the Federation.

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“The 2nd Respondent having scored the highest number of majority of lawful votes at the said election and satisfied the constitutional threshold, there is no need for a runoff election simply because 2nd Respondent did not poll up to 25% of the votes cast in FCT as that would be invalidating the votes of all the electorates looking for fresh votes all over 36 states again”, APC added.

Vanguard