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Thursday, March 7, 2019

TRIBUNAL GRANTS ATIKU, PDP PERMISSION TO INSPECT THE ELECTORAL MATERIALS


The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has rejected the request by candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party to be allowed to conduct forensic scanning and analysis of materials used for the February 23 presidential election.

The tribunal said such request was beyond the scope of the provisions of Section 151(1) & (2) of the Electoral Act (as amended).

In a unanimous ruling on an ex-parte application by Atiku and PDP, a three-man panel of the tribunal granted them the permission to inspect the materials and obtain certified true copies (CTC) of the materials.

In the lead ruling read by the leader or the panel, Justice Abdul Aboki, said the request by Atiku and PDP to call experts to engae in forensic anylysis and scaning of INEC materials was outside the scope of the meaning of inspection under Section 151 of the Electoral Act.

Delivering the lead ruling, Justice Aboki said by virtue of the provision of section 151 of the Electoral Act on which the applicants’ motion ex parte was anchored, they were only entitled to inspection of the electoral materials and the certified true copies of all the materials used for the poll.

The two other members of the panel, Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim, agreed with the lead ruling.

Earlier, the three-man panel, in a pre-hearing session of the tribunal had on Wednesday, entertained the applicants’ argument for about 45 minutes and rose.

It promised to return in one hour’s time to deliver its ruling but did not return until about three hours after.

The applicants’ legal team was led by Mr. Livy Ozoukwu (SAN), but Chief Chris Uche (SAN), made submissions on behalf of the team.

As expected in an ex parte hearing, the respondents – President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission – were absent and not represented by their lawyers.

Uche said during the Wednesday’s hearing that the ex parte motion contained six prayers, one of which sought the tribunal’s leave to bring the motion up in the tribunal pre-hearing session.

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