Published On: Wed, Aug 21st, 2019

Presidential election: S/Court dismisses Atiku’s plea to access INEC server

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The Supreme Court, has dismissed an appeal lodged by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and its candidate in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, challenging a ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal ruling that he failed to file a response to an application by the All Progressives Congress.
This is as the Apex court, also dismissed Atiku’s appeal seeking an access to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s sever.
Atiku and his party sought the Supreme Court to review the record of proceeding the Justice Mohammed Garba-led tribunal held on June 11, to determine if the presidential tribunal was right when it held that the All Progressives Congress, APC, filed a valid reply to the petition against the outcome of the February 23presidential election.
At the resumed proceeding yesterday, counsel to the appellants, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, drew attention of the court to the fact that the constitutionally prescribed period for determination of such interlocutory appeal, had elapsed.
Responding, INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, did not opposed the oral application to withdraw the appeal through their respective lawyers, but urged the apex court to dismiss it.
Justice Musa Muhammad in the lead ruling held that the appeal is statute barred and thereby, dismissed the appeal.
He said, “This appeal is hereby dismissed having been withdrawn by the counsel to the appellant and without any objection from the respondents.”
On the access to the INEC sever, Justice Dattijo Muhammad led panel, in a unanimously judgment, dismissed the appeal, saying there was no basis to interfere with the earlier decision of the tribunal.
Consequently, the panel rejected the appellants’ request to access the said server.
Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead judgment of the apex court, said the appellants failed to establish that the tribunal wrongfully exercised its discretion in dismissing their request.
Justice Nweze maintained that the applicant has no sufficient materials before the court to show that the tribunal’s exercise of its discretion was either arbitrary or illegal.
Further in the ruling, the Supreme Court judges held that the allegation by the appellants that they were denied fair hearing by the June 24, 2019 ruling of the tribunal was unsubstantiated.
He said the litigants should stop relying on the provision of fair hearing alone as it is not available to them just for the asking.
The court maintained that the law does not allow it to set aside a valid decision of the lower court, and decided that the reason given by the appellate court in its decision against the inspection of the server was valid.
Atiku and PDP had alleged in their petition pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that the “authentic” results of the February 23, 2019 election which gave them victory were stored in the said INEC server.
Reacting to the judgement yesterday, Atiku said there is no cause for alarm over the Supreme Court’s ruling dismissing his claims to inspect INEC server.
According to the ex-Vice President who addressed a news conference through his lead counsel, Eyitayo Jegede SAN, after Tuesday’s proceedings, said the decision was anticipated and that proactive action had been taken during the hearing of the petition.
“There is no cause for alarm in the decision of the apex court as it relates to our petition at the tribunal.
“The issue of server was aimed at establishing that the election was rigged during the collation of results and this was thoroughly addressed through witnesses and documents tendered and admitted during the presentation of the petition.”
He expressed optimism that the tribunal would do justice at the end of the day

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