The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) on Monday refused to grant the application filed by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to inspect the server and data of smart card reader used by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2019 presidential election.
In a ruling, the five-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Garba held that the tribunal would not grant the application, adducing that doing so might implied that the court has delved into the issue at interlocutory stage of the panel’s sittings would amount to making an order that would affect the substantive issue.
The presiding judge added that doing so would further create the impression that the tribunal has concluded that a central server where results of the February 23 election were received and stored actually existed.
He ruled further: “The Supreme Court had on many occasions warned judges to desist from making observations, comments or pronouncements in its rulings with any likely effect of prejudging the main issue that can be regarded as the issue to be tried in the course of trial.”
“I decline to grant relieve sought, this application is refused and hereby dismissed,” Justice Garba held.
Blueprint reports that the tribunal had on June 13 reserved ruling in the application filed on May 8 by the petitioners, for access to inspect INEC’s central server and smart card reader allegedly used in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
The PDP and Atiku had through their lawyers, led by Levy Uzoukwu, asked the tribunal to compel INEC to grant them access to the server and smart card readers used in the conduct of the election.
But in a counter affidavit, counsel representing INEC, Yunus Usman, asked the court to dismiss the application.
He argued: “They are asking us to bring something we do not have,”
Arguing further, Usman called the tribunal’s attention to its judgment of March 6 granting PDP access to inspect only election materials without the server.