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PDP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY: FRESH CONTROVERSY OVER ATIKU'S PETITION

By NBF News
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Atiku
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have dismissed the petition by the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar against the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged illegalities perpetrated by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the January 13 presidential primary of the Party.

Also, against the backdrop of allegation of double standard over substitution of candidates as directed by courts, the Commission said it was not moved by the allegations insisting it would only obey 'legitimate court orders.'

As controversies rage over whether or not the petition was received by the Commission, Daily Sun investigations revealed that the Commission has indeed received a report from its monitors on the allegations in the petition and was not impressed by the allegations leveled by the former Northern consensus presidential aspirant of the PDP.

Alhaji Abubakar had reportedly petitioned the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega claiming that the presidential primary lacked openness and fairness. He alleged that the exercise was a flagrant breach of the party's constitution as well as the Electoral Act 2010. The petition stirred controversy when the Commission claimed that it was not aware of the petition, a development which made the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organization to publish it in the newspapers with the INEC stamp showing that the petition dated January 28, was received by the office of the chairman on January 31.

However, a top official of the Commission who pleaded anonymity at the weekend spoke to Daily Sun on the position of the Commission on the petition, saying the allegations contained therein have no weight.

He explained that Alhaji Atiku was crying wolf where there was none.

'How can he allege that the whole process during the primary was shrouded in secrecy, when it was carried live by the electronic media. The PDP presidential primary monitored by us was the most transparent in the history of primaries in this country. 'It is as if these people have forgotten that we have our own report from our monitors. They just try to whip up political sentiments at every turn. If anything happened within the party, or with the delegates in their hotel rooms, how do they want us to know since our job starts and ends with the primaries and at the venue.

'Besides, the petitioner is not serious at all, how could he have waited that long before writing us. That is an afterthought. He should have written within 48 hours if he had his facts. Anyway, we have submitted our reports and that is it,' the source said. National Commissioner in Charge of Political Party Monitoring and Liaison and the Director in the Department, Regina Omo-Agege monitored the PDP presidential primary held at the Eagles Square. Efforts to make Omo-Agege comment on the matter proved abortive as she refused bluntly to talk, saying she was not the spokesperson of the Commission.

When asked how far the Commission has gone in treating the petition by Alhaji Atiku, the Director of Public Affairs, Emmanuel Umenger said he could not comment because he was not aware of the petition sent to the Commission and would not know the content. On the face-off between the parties and the INEC on the indiscriminate substitution of candidates, INEC said it was not disturbed by the muscle flexing by the parties saying everything it had done concerning substitution was as directed by the court order.

Apparently accusing the parties and their candidates of flaunting court orders that are not genuine, Umenger said: 'INEC will obey legitimate order, if anybody likes let them go and doctor order and bring to INEC, we know legitimate order, and we will obey it.'