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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

TRIBUNAL GIVES ATIKU GOAHEAD TO ACCESS POLL MATERIALS


The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday granted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, permission to inspect and obtain a certified true copy of materials used in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led tribunal also ordered INEC to make available all documents and materials used for the election for the purpose of the inspection.
In the unanimous ruling on the ex parte motion filed by Atiku and the PDP, the tribunal, however, refused the applicants’ prayers for scanning and forensic analysis of the election materials.
The tribunal also refused to direct INEC to make available all polling documents for forensic analysis as requested by the applicants. The tribunal, in addition, refused to order the electoral body to permit forensic experts of applicants to examine form EC48 and other relevant forms used for the election.
The court noted that the applicants’ counsel, Chris Uche (SAN) had rightly based his argument on a previous decision of Election Petition Tribunal, but observed that the decision which permits applicants to inspect, to scan for forensic analysis has been overruled by the court because it conferred unfair advantage on the applicant.
Earlier in the court sitting, Uche, in his brief before the three-man panel, said the motion was brought pursuant to Section 6:6 (A) and (B) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Section 151 of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended) and Paragraph 47: 1, 2 and 3 of the first schedule of the Electoral Act and the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
He also said the application contained six grounds supported by a 12-paragraph affidavit. Uche sought with the six reliefs contained on the face of his motion paper, orders including that of the court to allow for inspection and production of electoral documents used by INEC for the conduct of the presidential election, brought pursuant to Section 151 of the Electoral Act.
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led panel rose for a one-hour break after taking the brief of the applicants’ counsel.
The senior counsel’s submission included leave of the court to allow for the inspection of election materials from states nationwide where polls were held.
The counsel briefed the court that INEC would be present during the process of inspection of materials and scanning or photocopying of documents where necessary and it would be done on the premises of INEC quarters. He, therefore, urged the panel to consider his application.
The senior counsel told the tribunal that the reliefs sought against INEC were for the purpose of filing and maintaining an election petition they intend to lodge against the outcome of the 2019 presidential poll.
Cited as first to third respondents in the matter are INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Other justices on the tribunal are Emmanuel Agim and Peter Ige.

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