Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Tribunal granted Atiku's request to inspect election material used on the 23 Feb poll

The appeal court
on Wednesday granted the request by
Peoples Democratic Party and its
presidential candidate , Atiku Abubakar , to
be allowed to inspect the electoral materials
used by the Inec for the conduct of the February
23 general  election .
But A three-man panel led by Justice
Abdul Aboki unanimously rejected other
Appeal  by the applicants seeking orders
permitting them to , among others ,
photocopy and scan the electoral
documents.
The tribunal also refused their requests to
be allowed to conduct a forensic
examination and forensic analysis of the
materials and have access to card reader
data and information contained in the
cloud and electronic storage used for the
poll.
Delivering the lead ruling, Justice Aboki
said by virtue of the provision of section
151 of the Electoral Act on which the
applicants ’ motion ex parte was anchored ,
they were only entitled to inspection of the
electoral materials and the certified true
copies of all the materials used for the poll.
The two other members of the panel ,
Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim ,
agreed with the lead ruling.
Earlier, the three-man panel , in a pre-
hearing session of the tribunal had on
Wednesday, entertained the applicants ’
argument for about 45 minutes and rose.
It promised to return in one hour ’ s time to
deliver its ruling but did not return until
about three hours after .
The applicants ’ legal team was led by Mr.
Livy Ozoukwu ( SAN ) , but Chief Chris Uche
( SAN ) , made submissions on behalf of the
team .
As expected in an ex parte hearing, the
respondents – President Muhammadu
Buhari , the All Progressives Congress and
the Independent National Electoral
Commission – were absent and not
represented by their lawyers .
Uche said during the Wednesday ’ s hearing
that the ex parte motion contained six
prayers, one of which sought the tribunal ’ s
leave to bring the motion up in the tribunal
pre-hearing session .
He added , “ Prayers 2 to 6 are in summary
seeking orders of this honourable court to
allow the inspection and production of
election documents used by the
Independent Electoral Commission for the
conduct of the presidential election to
enable the applicants to institute and
maintain an election petition. ”
But during the proceedings , members of the
panel expressed reservations about whether
the tribunal could grant some prayers
contained in the application for orders
allowing them to scan and photocopy
electoral materials as well as allow them to
conduct forensic examination and forensic
audit of the materials .
 Uche stood on ground  that there were
authorities of the Court of Appeal which
had interpreted section 155 of the Electoral
Act to mean that petitioners could be
granted all the prayers sought in the ex
parte application.
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