Wednesday, June 26,2019
The two Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) has rejected the request by way of Atiku Abubakar and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), for permission to inspect a supposed central server, which they declare the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) used to transmit electronically consequences of the remaining presidential election.
They have vowed to appeal the verdict.
In a unanimous ruling on Monday, a five-man panel of the tribunal, led through Justice Mohammed Garba, pushed aside the software filed with the aid of Atiku and the PDP, to that effect.
The tribunal stated in view that parties to the petition were disputing the existence or in any other case of an INEC central server, it was once wrong for it to provide the petitioners’ request to investigate a server, whose existence, usage or in any other case was being disputed by means of parties.
It stated that through averments contained in processes filed with the aid of parties, they had joined problems on whether or now not there used to be a central server and whether or not INEC deployed it for the election.
The tribunal said granting the petitioners’ request to check out a server, which the supposed proprietor stated did now not exist, will quantity to the tribunal agreeing that a server absolutely exists.
It said the existence of a server, which varieties a significant section of the petition filed with the aid of Atiku and the PDP, be determined at the listening to of the most important petition.
Justice Garba, who gave the lead ruling, stated that “based on the statistics deposed to in the pleadings in paragraphs 6 to 8 of the petition, which is to the effect that the election consequences had been electronically transmitted to the 1st respondent’s server, in addition to the accreditation statistics from the smart card readers used for accreditation use for the election.
“And the respondents, having joined issues with the petitioners in admire of the same data, stated to have been transmitted to the 1st respondent’s server, this court docket has to be circumspect and be minded, to peruse the petition as nicely as the respondents’ replies thereto, in order to verify whether, in fact, parties have virtually joined issues on the existence and use of a central server.
“There are, in paragraphs 26, 27, 28 and 29 of the petitioners’ petition, statistics that for the stated election, held on the twenty third of February 2019, the 1st respondent deployed clever card readers in accreditation as nicely as transmit election results at once from the polling gadgets to the central server.
“But, the 1st respondents, in paragraph 6 of its reply, has definitely denied the existence and use of electronic transmission of effects in the presidential election of 2019.”
Justice Garba, after a careful evaluation of averments in the methods filed via parties, held that averments in the processes filed with the aid of parties “have clearly and unequivocally proven that parties have, indeed, joined issues on the existence or in any other case of a central server and whether the consequences of the presidential election held on the 23rd of February 2019 used to be electronically transmitted
“Now, given the germane nature of this issue, which proof can solely emerge at the hearing of the substantive petition, the question that comes to the fore is whether or not it will be rational; whether or not it will be judicious and to meet the give up of justice, in accordance with the law, that the courtroom should exercise its discretion in favour of the petitioners/applicants to provide get right of entry to to what they call central server, in appreciate of which parties have joined issues.
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“However, from the pleadings earlier than us, I am of the view that the averments in the petition and the respondents’ reply thereto, with regard to the existence of a central server and whether there used to be electronic transmission of the consequences of the presidential election, held on the 23rd of February 2019 and which issues have, admittedly been joined, extensively by parties, it is no doubt out of region and will now not be expedient that this court must provide the prayers contained in the application.
“In different words, if the courtroom can provide the prayers sought in this application,it would have delved into and resolved the notably issues aforementioned as regard the existence of a server and the digital transmission of the election results, which situation would be unpalatable and create the influence that this courtroom has indeed, demonstrated that there is a central server into which the result of the presidential election performed on February 23, 2019 was transmitted and saved with the aid of the 1st respondent.”
Justice Garba said the courtroom be careful, while deciding preliminary issues, and ought to avoid making announcement and remark that may want to touch or prejudging the huge issue.
He delivered that the court docket cannot, in figuring out preliminary issued, decide the substantial issues.
Justice Garba said: “I decline to furnish the reliefs sought in the application. The software filed on May 8 is hereby refused and dismissed.”
Atiku and the PDP, in their petition earlier than the tribunal, claimed that they won the election based totally on results they downloaded from the said INEC central server, which INEC has consistently denied its existence.
INEC has consistently denied that it deployed any server for the transmission of the election effects and that the extant Electoral Act and Electoral Guidelines do no longer permit digital transmission of election results.
In the application, Atiku and PDP had prayed the tribunal for an order:
two granting get entry to or the court’s supervised get entry to and inspection by the petitioners in the presence of the 1st and 2nd respondents, if they so desire, of the 1st respondent’s server, whereby facts are recorded and saved in data packages bearing on to the accreditation of voters and transmission of effects from the presidential election, the issue count of the petition;
two directing the 1st respondent’s Chief National Electoral Commissioner and /other officers to grant the petitioners get admission to to the said facts base in the 1st respondent’s central server;
two granting go away to the petitioners to look at and obtain licensed actual copies (CTC) of smart card readers accreditation information from the clever card readers used for the stated election as stored in the 1st respondent’s server; and
two an order granting depart to the petitioners to file the file of the inspection and analysis thereof at the trial.
The tribunal, in an in the past ruling. granted the 2nd respondent (President Muhammad Buhari) the permission to amen his reply to the petition through Atiku and the PDP by which include his lawyer’s name, address and countrywide Identification number.
The tribunal overruled the petitioners’ objection to the modification sought by means of Buhari, on the grounds that the amendment was once no longer widespread sufficient to alter the nature of the case.
It agreed with Buhari’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that the petitioners, having in the previous got the tribunal’s permission to serve documents on Buhari via the workplace of the All Progressives Congress (APC),it cannot object to the inclusion of the 2nd respondents lawyer’s address.
The tribunal reserved till a later date ruling on the petitioners’ preliminary objection to Buhari’s reply to their petition.
The tribunal stated considering the fact that the Preliminary objection affected the petition, it was once higher to determine it at the stage of deciding the petition.
Reacting to the tribunal’s rejection of therequest to inspect server, two senior lawyers from the petitioners’ legal team, Chris Uche (SAN) and Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said their consumer will attraction to the Supreme Court.
Lawyer to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN) stated he as blissful with the tribunal’s choice and challenged the petitioners to show their case at the listening to of the petition.
Uche said: “ you know the kingdom used to be looking forward to this ruling. It is one that is very pivotal to this matter. You know the Electoral Act empowers the court and the tribunals to provide access, such as this, to petitioners in order to institute andmaitain apetition andthatisallwe are asking.
“But the court docket has dominated otherwise. Definitely, this is a depend that we prefer to take higher to the Supreme Court to assignment this ruling, because we strongly feel that Section 151 of the Electoral Act entitles us to have access to this materials.
“We are now not asking the courtroom to figure out whether there is a server or not. So, the factor of the court docket prejudging any trouble does no longer occur at all.
What we requested was once for the court docket to allow us get entry to to the substances used for the election. INEC is a public institution, funded by using public finance. Definitely, we are going to mission the decision of the courtroom today.
Ozekhome claimed that INEC chairman and some different senior INEC officials, inclusive of Mike Igini (Akwa-Ibom) maintained that INEC would adopt digital ability and not guide in transmitting the results.
“What the court has stated nowadays is that you do not have the right under Section 15 of the Electoral Act to preserve your petition. We did now not ask for details. all we asked as for get right of entry to to the result of the election.
“Meanwhile, one of their spokesmen had written a petition to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) that the petitioners have hacked into their server. The query is which server?
“Like what my realized brother, Chris Uche (SAN) has said, we are attractive against this decision, due to the fact it is like tying your hands at the back of your back and expecting you to fight.
“We need to recognize what is in the central server. We choose to find out what is there that they are hiding.
Usman said: “We are satisfied. The courtroom has said it can’t delve into these problems raised through the petitioners in its utility when events have joined issues on them in the noticeable petition.
“These are the troubles to be tried. you can strive the by using piecemeal. “
To the Presidency, yesterday’s rejection of the request by means of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate at the February 23 Presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to look at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s server is justice over propaganda.
The election tribunal turned down the opposition party’s request to look at the server.
A statement by means of the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, reads “In a landmark ruling with the aid of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), a desperate attempt by using the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to overreach judicial technique was once overwhelmingly rejected by way of a unanimous selection and the lengthy standing principle of law has as soon as once more been re-enacted.
“An try to reason the willpower of an problem that constitutes the fulcrum of competition between the parties, at an interlocutory stage, has once more been rejected via the tribunal.
“What this potential is that Justice and truthful listening to through due contest by means of the parties of a predominant difficulty for dedication remains sacrosanct and remains giant with the aid of the tribunal upon according events simply and honest hearing and not the different way round.
“The election petitions tribunal unanimously rejected the PDP’s request to inspect a server which existence is being disputed.
“The existence of a purported server is being contested and if a purported inspection had been allowed at this stage, it would have amounted to the determination that it certainly existed even when its existence is being contested.
“The electoral regulation prescribes guide transmission of outcomes solely and this was once what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did, in obedience to the law as witnessed by means of actual electoral observers.
‘YIAGA Africa deployed 3906 actual people to run a parallel tabulation which lower back the identical effects the INEC announced.” he added
Last week, he said, the closing reports of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute (IRI/NDI) electoral observer mission made clear that the results of the election mirrored the votes cast.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari gained with a majority of 4 million votes and because only real votes matter, INEC announced him as the winner of the 2019 presidential election.