The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, reserved ruling on the application filed by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for access to inspect the server and data of smart card reader used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
Presiding Justice of the five man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved date for ruling in the application shortly after counsel in the matter adopted and argued their brief of arguments in the suit.
Garba said the panel would communicate the date of the ruling to parties’ lead counsel once they are ready.
Moving the motion for inspection of INEC server and other electoral materials, one of the lead counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Chief Chris Uche SAN, said the request is essential to their petition challenging the return of President Muhammadu Buhari at the election.
The petitioners had in their petition stated that by figures obtained from INEC’s server, they and not Buhari and the third respondent, All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential election held on February 23 this year.
According to the figures allegedly obtained from the server, Atiku said he scored 18, 356,732 votes as against that of Buhari, whom he said scored 16, 741,430.
“The Servers from which the said figures were derived belong to the first Respondent (INEC). The figures and votes were transmitted to the first Respondent’s Presidential Result’s Server 1 and thereafter aggregated in INEC_PRES_RSLT_SRV2019, whose Physical Address or unique Mac Address is 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9 with Microsoft Product ID 00252-7000000000-AA535.
The above descriptions are unique to the 15t Respondent’s Server,” Atiku and his party said. “There is no conjecture in the votes and scores in the table pleaded by the Petitioners. The figures are factual.
The spokesperson for the 2nd Respondent’s Campaign Organization openly admitted that the data in question was in the first Respondent’s Server when he wrote and submitted a petition to the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) asking the Security agencies to investigate the 2nd Petitioner herein for allegedly hacking into the Server of the 1St Respondent and obtaining the data in question.
“Specifically, Festus Keyamo, SAN, the spokesperson of the 2nd Respondent claimed in the said petition that it was the first Petitioner who smuggled the data into the Server.” Atiku and the PDP also alleged the INEC chairman “committed grave errors in the final collation exercise” for the election by “falsely crediting” some persons with political parties, including “Okotie Christopher, Reverend Dr Onwubuya and Ojinika Jeff Chinze.”
Uche SAN, told the tribunal that the inspection of the server and data is necessary in the interest of justice, transparency and neutrality on the part of the first respondents, INEC.
But, INEC through its counsel, Yunus Usman SAN, vehemently opposed the application for inspection. He said that the application should be dismissed because, “We do not have server”.
Usman also said that the Court of Appeal enrolled order of March 6, 2019 refused all the prayers in the said application. He maintained that the court having refused the prayers lacked jurisdiction to revisit it.
Lead counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and that of the APC, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, also made similar argument in opposing the application for inspection.
Olanipekun told the tribunal that it lacks jurisdiction to overule itself while Fagbemi urged the tribunal to be warried of making an order which it is not capable of enforcing, because INEC has said it has no server.
Consequently, Justice Garba announced that ruling in the application is reserved to a date to be communicated to parties and adjourned the pre-hearing of Atiku and PDP’s petition till June 24.
Earlier, the tribunal heard the motions filed by INEC, President Buhari and APC urging it to dismiss the petition of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Oworu for being incompetent and abuse of court processes.
Olanipekun in his argument said that there was no petition filed by the party before the tribunal because what was served on the respondents is a petition against referendum which the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain.
The tribunal however reserved ruling to a date to be communicated to parties in the suit and adjourned the pre-hearing of the HDP’s petition till June 20.