By Olisemeka Obeche
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, says there was no cause for alarm over the Supreme Court’s verdict that dismissed his claims to inspect INEC server.
Atiku’s lead counsel, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, told newsmen after Tuesday’s proceedings, that the decision was anticipated and that proactive action had been taken during the hearing of the petition. Hear him, “There is no cause for alarm in the decision of the apex court as it relates to our petition at the tribunal. The issue of server was aimed at establishing that the election was rigged during the collation of results and this was thoroughly addressed through witnesses and documents tendered and admitted during the presentation of the petition.”
He expressed optimism that the tribunal would do justice at the end of the day.
Atiku had approached the Supreme Court praying for an order to set aside the decision of the tribunal, which refused to compel INEC to allow him access to the central server allegedly used in the conduct of the presidential poll.
The PDP and Atiku had, in the appeal marked SC/815/2019, sought to reverse the decision by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), rejecting their request to inspect a supposed central server purportedly used for the last presidential election.
In a unanimous judgment on Tuesday, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Datijo Mohammed, held that the appeal was a waste of time and without basis.
Justice Chima Nweze, who read the lead judgment, said, “I see no reason for departing from the reasoning of the lower court. I find that this appeal is without merit, and it is accordingly, dismissed.”
Other members of the panel – Justices Mohammed, Kumai Akaahs, Paul Galumje and Uwani Abba-Aji, agreed with the lead judgment.
The PEPC had, while dismissing the application by Atiku and the PDP, held that INEC, having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as claimed by the petitioners (Atiku and PDP), granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
The court’s presiding justice, Justice Mohammed Garba, added that granting the application would imply that the court had “indeed, recognised and found out that there is a central server into which results of the held on February 23, 2019, were electronically transmitted by the 1st respondent (INEC).”
The appeal marked SC/739/2019 was filed against a ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), in which it held that Atiku and the PDP do not have a reply to an application filed on May 14, 2019, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking, among others, the dismissal of their (Atiku and the PDP) challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the last presidential election.
In a ruling on Tuesday, a five-man panel led by Justice Datijo Mohammed, struck out the appeal for having become statute-barred.