Nigeria: INEC Server - Supreme Court Dismisses PDP, Atiku's Appeal

21 August 2019

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), which rejected their request to inspect a central server said to belong to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

PDP and Atiku had alleged that INEC used the said central server for the collation of results of the 2019 presidential election and that the results from the said server indicated a defeat for President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, in a unanimous judgment yesterday, a five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, held that the appeal was a waste of time and without merit.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Centus Nweze, held that the appellants failed to establish that the tribunal wrongfully exercised its discretion in dismissing their request.

He added that they also failed to place sufficient materials before the apex court to show that the tribunal's exercise of its discretion was either arbitrary or illegal.

Justice Nweze further held that the allegation by the appellants that they were denied fair hearing by the June 24, 2019 ruling of the tribunal was unsubstantiated.

"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," he held.

Other members of the panel - Justices Mohammed, Kumai Akaahs, Paul Galumje and Uwani Abba-Aji agreed with the lead judgment.

The PEPT on June 26 dismissed the said application by Atiku and the PDP.

Earlier, the apex court panel, also led by Justice Muhammed also struck out another appeal filed by PDP and Atiku challenging a ruling of the PEPT which held that they failed to file a response to an application by the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC's application before the tribunal had prayed for among others the dismissal of the appellants' petition at the tribunal.

The apex court held that the appeal was statute-barred.

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