A three-man panel of the Justices of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has reserved ruling on the ex-parte motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, seeking an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to surrender for inspection all the materials that were used for the February 23 presidential election.
The three-man panel, in a pre-hearing session of the tribunal on Wednesday, entertained the applicants’ argument for about 45 minutes and rose.
It promised to return in one hour’s time to deliver its ruling.
The panel is led by Justice Abdul Aboki, while Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim are members.
The applicants’ legal team is led by Mr. Livy Ozoukwu (SAN), but Chief Chris Uche (SAN), made submissions on behalf of the team.
As expected in an ex parte hearing, the respondents – President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission – were absent and not represented by their lawyers.
Uche said during the Wednesday’s hearing that the ex parte motion contained six prayers, one of which sought the tribunal’s leave to bring the motion up in the tribunal pre-hearing session.
He added, “Prayers 2 to 6 are in summary seeking orders of this honourable court to allow the inspection and production of election documents used by the Independent Electoral Commission for the conduct of the presidential election to enable the applicants to institute and maintain an election petition.”
But during the proceedings, members of the panel expressed reservations about whether the tribunal could grant some prayers contained in the application for orders allowing them to scan and photocopy electoral materials as well as allow them to conduct forensic examination and forensic audit of the materials.
Responding, Uche insisted that there were authorities of the Court of Appeal which had interpreted section 155 of the Electoral Act to mean that petitioners could be granted all the prayers sought in the ex parte application.
While rising to prepare the tribunal’s ruling, Justice Aboki, requested the applicants’ legal team to submit the said authorities within the one hour period the panel gave to finish writing the ruling.