Tribunal: Atiku, PDP Dismiss INEC’s Denials …Demand Access To Server

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L-R: Flag Officer Commanding Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral S. I. Enoch, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, John Jonah, Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, representative of Rivers State Governor and Secretary to the State Government, Mr Kenneth Kobani and others, at the passing out parade of Batch 28 trainees of Nigerian Naval Basic School, Onne in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Saturday.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have filed a fresh application for access to information contained in the Smart Card Readers and “central server”, which it said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) used for the conduct of the disputed election.
They filed the application before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, where their petition challenging President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress’ victory at the poll is pending.
The petitioners, through their lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), made the request in their application filed before the tribunal, despite INEC’s insistence that the results of the election were manually collated and never transmitted electronically.
Uzochukwu, in a chat with newsmen at the weekend, confirmed that the application was filed on May 9, adding that the respondents – INEC, Buhari and APC – had yet to file their replies to it.
INEC had declared that Buhari and APC won the February 23 election with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku who polled 11,262,978 votes.
But Atiku and the PDP, in their petition filed on March 18 to challenge the outcome of the poll, stated that “from the data” they obtained from INEC’s server, “the true, actual and correct results” showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.
By calculation, Atiku and PDP claimed to have defeated Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.
However, in its reply filed on April 10 to counter the petition, INEC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, insisting that the petitioners’ claims were false.
It said, through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), that it collated the results of the election manually and never transmitted them electronically.
It added kept no server where results transmitted electronically could have been stored as alleged by the petitioners.
However, the petitioners, in their fresh application, maintained that INEC kept “central servers” in which “information was recorded and stored in database packets relating to accreditation of voters and transmission of results from the presidential election”.
They sought to be permitted to inspect the said servers and the card readers used for the conduct of the poll, examine and analyse the information obtained from them.
They also prayed for the tribunal’s permission to be allowed to file a report of their inspection, examination and analysis of the content of the facilities.
Their written address filed in support of the application read in part, “This motion is brought pursuant to Section 151 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Section 71 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Paragraphs 18 (7) (e), 41 (5) and (6), 47 (2) & 54 of the First Schedule to Electoral Act, 2010, (as amended), Section 6 (6) (b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and under the Inherent Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.
“The motion prays for the following orders as expressed on the face of the motion paper, namely: ‘An order allowing access or a court-supervised access and inspection by the Petitioners, in the presence of the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Buhari and APC) if they so desire, of the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) central servers wherein information was recorded and stored in database packets relating to accreditation of voters and transmission of results from the Presidential election, the subject-matter of this petition.”