The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by lawyers to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seeking access to the Independent National Electoral Commission ’s servers.
Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead judgment of Dattijo Muhammed led five-man justices of the apex court, said the appellants failed to establish that the tribunal wrongfully exercised its discretion in dismissing their request.
The justices had in a unanimous judgment on Tuesday 20 August 2019, dismissed the appeal of the appellants, saying there was no basis to interfere with the earlier decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal rejecting the appellants’ request to have access to the said server.
Justice Centus added that the allegation by the appellants of being denied fair hearing with the ruling of the tribunal on 24 July 2019, was unsubstantiated.
The appellants 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, says the justices.
It will be recalled that Atiku and PDP had alleged in their petition pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, that the “ authentic ” results of 23 February 2019 election which gave them victory were stored in the said INEC server.
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 all opposed the appeal through their respective attornies, who urged the apex court to dismiss it.
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 the presentation of evidence at the tribunal had closed.
The tribunal had fixed Wednesday for final arguments in the case.
Atiku and the PDP are challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari before the tribunal over the fraudulent conduct of the 23 February 2019 election.