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Tribunal Dismisses Access Request, Atiku Heads For Supreme Court

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has vowed to appeal at the Supreme Court, against Monday’s ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal dismissing their application for permission to access and inspect the central server said to have been used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the polls.

In a unanimous ruling, the Justice Mohammed Garba-led bench of five judges upheld the separation objections by the three respondents to the petitioners’ application.

The tribunal dismissed the application, holding that granting the request would amount to pre-judging the main issue meant for trial during the substantive hearing of the petition.

Justice Garba, who delivered the lead ruling of the tribunal, held that INEC having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as alleged by the petitioners, granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.

Reacting to the Tribunal’s ruling, a senior member of the Atiku and PDP’s legal team, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told Journalists:

“The nation was looking forward to this ruling and it is one that is very pivotal to this matter.

“The Electoral Act itself empowers the tribunal to grant access such as this to the petitioners in order to institute and maintain a petition, and that is what we are asking for.

“Somehow, at this stage, the court has ruled. But definitely this is a matter we want to take higher to the Supreme Court to challenge this ruling because we strongly feel that section 151 of the Electoral Act entitles us to have access to these materials.”

On its part, INEC, through its lawyer, Mr. Usman Uztaz, SAN, said it was satisfied with the ruling.

“These are issues to be tried during the hearing, you cannot try them in piecemeal”, INEC’s lawyer told newsmen.

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