A three-man panel of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja has granted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, access to all electoral materials used in the presidential elections.
The panel on Wednesday heard the ex-parte motion filed by the party and Atiku, seeking an order granting them access to inspect the electoral materials used for the February 23 polls.
Atiku filed an ex-parte motion at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, asking for various orders of the court to allow him to access all documents used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the presidential election.
The ex-parte motion prayed for an order compelling INEC to allow them to inspect the register and other vital documents used in the conduct of the election unhindered.
In delivering its ruling, the panel ordered INEC to allow the appellant access to all electoral materials to enable the applicant file and maintain an electoral petition.
However, the court refused prayers 3 to 5 which sought scanning and forensic audit. Stating that a forensic audit does not fall under the terms envisaged by section 151 of the electoral act.
The tribunal said such request for forensic analysis and scanning by experts, of computers, card reader machines, server, among others deployed for the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was beyond the scope of the provisions of Section 151(1) & (2) of the Electoral Act (as amended), which permits the inspection of election materials.
The panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki agreed unanimously to the ruling, hence, the motion was granted in part. Other members of the panel include Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim.
Justice Aboki said: “After a careful examination of the reliefs sought on the motion paper and a perusal of Section 151 of the Electoral Act (as amended), and the decision of this court in cases of Aregbesola v. Oyinlola, Akintayo v. Jolaoye, Senator Hope Uzodinma v. Senator Osita Izunaso,, it is hereby ordered as follows.
“Leave is granted to the applicants to bring this application at this stage,
“The first respondent (INEC) shall forthwith, allow the applicants and or their representatives to inspect polling documents and obtained certified true copies of all polling documents in the custody of the first respondent, used for the just-concluded presidential election, to enable the applicants institute and maintain an election petition.
“Prayers three, four, five and six on the motion paper are hereby refused.
“Forensic audit, examination and analysis by forensic experts cannot be regarded as an inspection of those documents within the ambit of Section 151 of the Electoral Act (as amended),” Justice Aboki said.