Unic Press UK: An interlocutory application made by the legal team of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to inspect the computer server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been declined by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal; and the matter is heading to the Nigerian apex court, the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous ruling Monday, the Tribunal Chairman, Judge Mohammed Garba, who leads four other Justices of the Appeal Court, held that it is not proper to grant such an application at this stage of the case.
Atiku’s legal counsel Dr Levi Uzoukwu SAN had relied on Section 151 of the Electoral Act which reads:
“An order for an inspection of a polling document or an inspection of a document or any other packet in the custody of the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or any other officer f the Commission may be made by the election tribunal or the court if it is satisfied that the inspection is required for the purpose of instituting, maintaining or defending an election petition…”
INEC insists that it has no server, and as such none was deployed during the Nigeria General Election 2019.
That Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, having satisfied the requirement of the law and scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected. #NigeriaDecides2019Result pic.twitter.com/oz89PAz1QM
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) February 27, 2019
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar filed a petition at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on March 18, 2019, claiming that he won the Nigeria Presidential Election 2019 having garnered 18,356,732 votes when compared to the 16,741,430 votes of Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC); and being in the lead with 1,615,302 based on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server record of the results from 35 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory as of February 25, 2019.
In the election petition, which has INEC, Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as respondents, the former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are praying the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to either declare Atiku winner of the presidential election 2019 or make an order for a fresh election.
Atiku and the PDP are also challenging the eligibility of the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari to contest the February 23, 2019 Presidential Election 2019, submitting that Buhari does not possess the requisite educational qualification to contest the election to the office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs, through their legal team led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Dr Livy Uzoukwu, are basing the election petition on five grounds, viz.:
- The 2nd respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
- The election of the 2nd respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices.
- The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
- The 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.
- The 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.
Atiku is relying on the circulars/corrigenda/manuals issued by INEC for the conduct of the Presidential Election 2019; a summary of PVC’s collected on units’ basis; security reports; election video/audio recordings; election materials; Newspaper/Television/ Radio reports and news; expert reports and analysis; photographs; phone records; and many other materials