Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal lodged before it by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seeking access to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s sever.
The apex court unanimaously dismissed the appeal on the grounds that there was no basis to interfere with the decision of the presidential election tribunal.
The Dattijo Muhammad-led five-man panel, in its lead judgment read by Justice Centus Nweze, said the appellants failed to establish that the tribunal wrongfully exercised its discretion in dismissing their request.
Justice Nweze further held that Atiku and his political party failed to place sufficient materials before the apex court to show that the tribunal’s exercise of its discretion was either arbitrary or illegal.
The court added that the allegation raised by the appellants that they were denied fair hearing by the June 24, 2019 ruling of the tribunal was unsubstantiated.
Atiku and PDP had alleged in their petition pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that the “authentic” results of the February 23, 2019 election which gave them victory were stored in the said INEC server.
Earlier, leading their argument on Tuesday, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), told the apex court that his clients were still within time, as the 180 days meant for the tribunal to hear and determine the case had not lapsed.
But the respondents — INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress — opposed the appeal through their respective lawyers, and urged the apex court to dismiss it.
While INEC was represented by Yunus Usman (SAN), Buhari was represented by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and APC by Chief Charles Edosomwon (SAN).
They maintained that granting the prayer sought by the appellants would be of no utility value as presentation of evidence at the tribunal had closed.
The tribunal had fixed Wednesday for final arguments in the case.