Atiku, PDP to Tribunal: Compel INEC to grant us access to server

.INEC: We didn’t use server
.Buhari opposes application

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, and his party, yesterday, prayed the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow them to inspect the electronic server used for the computation of the presidential election, as well the smart card readers used for the said election.
The petitioners had approached the court, challenging the presidential election which produced Buhari.
Atiku and PDP, who were represented at the tribunal by the vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in a motion moved and adopted by a member of their legal team, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), informed the tribunal that granting the application will be in the interest of justice and neutrality.
However, first respondent, INEC, through its counsel, Utaz Yunus Usman (SAN), opposed the application, on ground that the electoral body did not make use of any server to collate result of the presidential election.
INEC further argued that the entire petition was defective on ground that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whom it equally issued certificate of return to, was not joined as a party.
Usman consequently prayed the tribunal to refuse the application and also dismiss the entire petition.
Both the 2nd and 3rd respondents – Buhari and APC – also prayed the tribunal to dismiss the application.
In his submission, counsel to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), submitted that granting the petitioners’ application will amount to giving an order which is not implementable.
“Since INEC has said they don’t have what they are looking for, there is no point granting the order,” he said.
After the petitioners adopted their application and the respondents adopted their counter affidavit opposing the application, the presiding judge of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal, reserved ruling to a date that will be communicated to counsel in the matter.
He later adjourned till June 24 for continuation of pre-hearing session.
INEC had declared President Buhari as the winner of the February 23 election, having polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Atiku, who polled 11,262,978.
Not satisfied, Atiku had, through his team of counsel, approached the tribunal to challenge the validity of Buhari’s victory.
Atiku stated that from the data in INEC’s server, the true, actual and correct results showed that he (Atiku) secured a total of 18,356,732 votes to against Buhari’s 16,741,430 votes.
The PDP presidential candidate stated that the results were from 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as there was “no report on server” about the election results from Rivers State.
Earlier, the tribunal had also reserved ruling in an application filed by the presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Chief Ambrose Owuru and his party.
The application was to the effect to amend the petition before the tribunal.
The respondents, however, opposed the application and consequently prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition in its entirety.
Specifically, counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), prayed the court to dismiss the entire petition on ground that what the petitioners are asking for cannot be given by an election tribunal.
He submitted that the petitioners are asking for a referendum which the tribunal lacks power to look into in the first place.
INEC, in its own submission, argued that the petitioners’ petition constitutes an abuse of court of process in that two similar cases were filed by them (petitioners) that are pending before a Federal High Court.
He consequently prayed the court to dismiss the petition.
The tribunal later adjourned till June 17 for continuation of pre-hearing session.
There was, however, a mild drama when another counsel announced appearance for the HDP.
When the court asked, why it was so, one Poland Anitewere, who claimed to be the national chairman of HDP, told the court that Owuru had briefed a counsel to file a petition without the knowledge of the party.
Hence, the party approached the court to dissociate itself from the petition, that being the reason it (HDP) it briefed another counsel.
But the counsel, who announced appearance for both Owuru and HDP, Oliver Eya, told the court that Anitewere is an impostor and not known to the party as the national chairman. Meanwhile, recall that INEC and the APC had accused Atiku and the PDP of hacking into INEC’s server after the election. They even threatened to sue PDP for cyber crime over the INEC server.

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