The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has granted the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, permission to inspect and obtain Certified True Copy (CTC) of election materials used in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led tribunal also ordered INEC to make available all documents and electoral materials used for the election for the purpose of the inspection.
In the unanimous ruling on the ex-parte motion filed by the PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the party the tribunal, however, refused the applicants prayers for scanning, forensic analysis of the election materials.
The tribunal also refused to direct INEC to make available all polling documents for forensic analysis as requested by the applicants.
The tribunal, in addition, refused to order the electoral body to permit forensic experts of Applicants to examine form EC48 and other relevant forms used for the election.
The court noted that the applicants’ counsel, Chris Uche (SAN) had rightly based his argument on a previous decision of Election Petition Tribunal, but observed that the decision which permit applicants to inspect, to scan for forensic analysis has been overruled by this court because it confers an unfair advantage to the applicant.
Earlier in the court sitting, Chris Uche, in his brief before the three-man panel, said the motion is brought pursuant to Section 6:6 (A) and (B) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Section 151 of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended) and Paragraph 47: 1, 2 and 3 of the first schedule of the Electoral Act and the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
He also said the application contained six grounds supported by a 12-paragraph affidavit. Chris Uche sought with the six reliefs contained on the face of his motion paper orders including that of the court to allow for inspection and production of electoral documents used by INEC for the conduct of the presidential election brought pursuant to Section 151 of the Electoral Act.
The Justice Abdul Aboki-led panel rose for a one hour break after taking the brief of the applicant counsel.
Part of the senior counsel’s submission included leave of the court to allow for the inspection of election materials from states nationwide where polls were held.
The counsel briefed the court that INEC will be present during the process of inspection of materials and scanning or photocopying of documents where necessary and it would be done within the premises of INEC quarters. He, therefore, urged the panel to consider his application.
The senior counsel told the tribunal that the reliefs sought against INEC were for the purpose of filing and maintaining an election petition they intend to lodge against the outcome of the 2019 Presidential Election.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter are INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Other Justices on the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hearing the PDP, Atiku motion marked CA/A/P/EPT/1/2019, are Justices Emmanuel Agim and Peter Ige.