2019 POLL!!! Bye Bye To Buhari, As Atiku Set For Big Victory At Supreme Court, Over INEC Server

By Post-Nigeria: June 30, 2019 09:56

2019 POLL!!! Bye Bye To Buhari, As Atiku Set For Big Victory At Supreme Court, Over INEC Server

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its Candidate in the February 23, Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, have kept their vow to appeal the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s rejection of their request to access the “central server”, which they alleged housed the results of the poll electronically transmitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, during the exercise.
Atiku made a four-ground notice of appeal filed by the Petitioners, urging the Supreme Court to not only set aside the June 24, 2019, decision of the Tribunal, but to also grant all their prayers “contained in the motion on notice dated and filed (before the Tribunal), on May 8, 2019.”
Shortly after the Tribunal delivered the said ruling on June 24, 2019, the Petitioners had through two senior members of their Legal team, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, and Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, vowed to challenge the Tribunal’s decision at the Supreme Court.
The Petitioners filed their notice of appeal on June 26, 2019, two days after the Tribunal’s decision was delivered.
The Petitioners had in their motion, which was dismissed by the Tribunal, claimed that INEC electronically transmitted the results of the disputed poll to the said central server.
INEC denied the claim, insisting that it never transmitted the results of the poll to any server whatsoever, but that the results were collated and declared manually.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC, whose victory at the poll is being challenged by the Petitioners at the Tribunal, also opposed the Petitioners’ request for access to the said INEC server.

However, the Petitioners have insisted in their notice of appeal, that INEC electronically transmitted the results to the central server, adding that, the Tribunal denied them fair hearing, by preventing them from accessing the “relevant and material evidence”, to which they were entitled to under the provisions of section 151 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010, (as amended).
They alleged that the Tribunal’s denial of fair hearing undermined their petition.
According to them, the Tribunal, in dismissing their application, “failed to consider” their “uncontroverted evidence… contained in their further affidavit in support of their application for access and inspection of information”.
They maintained that the Tribunal failed to exercise its discretion judiciously and judicially.
They added that they supported their “further affidavit” accompanying their motion at the Tribunal “with enough documentary proof, to the effect that the results were actually transmitted electronically and stored in its (INEC) central server, with respect to the Presidential election conducted on February 23, 2019.’’
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led Tribunal, in its unanimous ruling delivered on June 24, 2019, dismissed the Petitioners’ application, on the grounds that if granted, it 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 to any server as alleged by the Petitioners, granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
Moreover,  in their four grounds of appeal, the Appellants, through their Legal team led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, faulted the decision of the five Justices of the lower court.
The APC, INEC, and  Buhari, are the Respondents to the appeal, as they are to the petition.
The hearing of the petition before the Tribunal is bound to continue, despite the pending appeal.
In their first ground of appeal, the Appellants, stated: “The learned Justices of the Court of Appeal (sitting as the Presidential Election Petition Court), erred in law, when contrary to the provisions of section 151 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), they refused to grant the application of the Appellants, on the grounds that it will amount to pre-judging the issue in the substantive case.’’
They insisted that their application “was legitimately brought within the confines of section 151 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010, (as amended), which allows for an inspection of polling documents or any other packet in the custody of the Chief National Electoral Commissioner, or any other Officer of the Commission for purpose of inter alia, maintaining the election petition”.
They said that they only prayed the Tribunal for access and inspection of the “information stored in the database packets” in INEC’s central server, “such that all the parties were to be given an opportunity to participate in the inspection”.

In their second ground of appeal, the Appellants said that the Justices of the Court of Appeal, “failed to exercise their discretion in favour of the Appellants in respect of their motion”.
In the third ground of appeal, the Appellants said that the Tribunal by its ruling “denied the Appellants fair hearing, in gross violation of section 36 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), by declining to grant the application of the Appellants, for access to the information in the 1st Respondent’s custody, thereby undermining the maintenance of the petition.”
In the fourth ground, the Appellants stated that the Tribunal “erred in law, when they failed to consider the evidence in the custody of the 1st Respondent.”
They said: “The Appellants produced evidence vide Exhibits B and D attached to their further affidavit, to the effect that the Chairman of the 1st Respondent (INEC), who doubled as the Chief National Electoral Commissioner, confirmed the decision of the 1st Respondent to transmit the results of the Presidential election electronically to the central server.”
Atiku and the PDP in their petition filed on March 18, to challenge the outcome of the polls, contended that “from the data” obtained from INEC’s server, “the true, actual and correct results” showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes, to defeat Buhari, whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.
Further pre-hearing session on the petition was adjourned till Monday.

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