A Nigerian court has ordered the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide evidence which supports its declaration of ruling party candidate Umaru Yar'Adua as winner of the country’s presidential election. Opposition parties had petitioned the court to compel INEC to produce ballots and other materials, which support the commission’s claim of a landslide victory for the People's Democratic Party (PDP). The opposition hopes this could be the first step toward overturning the results.
Shehu Garba is spokesman for outgoing Vice President Atiku Abubakar. From the capital Abuja, he tells the Voice Of America what the court’s decision means to the vice president.
“Our understanding is that we have a case to file challenging the declaration, and there is documentary evidence that we need from the electoral commission. And the electoral commission being body and being a defendant itself in a case, they would not normally co-operate with you and let you have what you want. So that’s why we went to the court and we asked an order directing the electoral commission to release whatever document that we would need for the compilation for the prosecution of our own case,” Garba noted.
He said the opposition is hopeful the court’s order can go a long way in helping its case against INEC.
“We thank God that the court had no difficulty granting our request to force INEC to produce the evidence. So it’s very important for us that we have got this order from the court, because it is a requirement under the new dispensation that if you have to file a petition against any election, you must produce evidence, whatever proof of evidence you have, you must put it together and file it with your petition. Now if can’t lay your hands on this evidence, then it is as good as you have lost the case from its commencement,” he pointed out.
Garba explains how the opposition would use the evidence the court is compelling INEC to provide.
“What this means is that when we collect of this evidence, for instance, we would asked them (INEC) to give us the voters register and we would ask them to give us the ballot papers that were used, and there are observations that we can make to prove that, for instance if we see that the ballot papers have not been printed in line with the requirement of the law, it falls short of the expectations of the law. These are provable things. So, we would get information from INEC to prove that this election has failed to meet the requirement of the law. This is the very essence of what these documents would do for us,” he said.
Garba continues to insist the election organized by INEC was flawed.
“Above everything else, the election has not even been conducted in accordance with the law and constitution of Nigeria. This is provable. These guys just went out and did their hearts wish. They put the law aside and they embarked on a wishful action; barring people from election, disqualifying people ten hours before the vote, these are not things that had been envisaged by the law. So these are the things that we are talking about,” he said.