The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Monday dismissed an application by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, requesting permission to have access to the central server said to have been used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the February 23 poll.
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led bench of five judges, in a unanimous ruling, upheld the separation objections by the three respondents to the petitioners’ application.
The three respondents are INEC, Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress.
Dismissing the application, the tribunal held that granting it would amount to pre-judging the main issue meant for trial during the substantive hearing of the petition.
Justice Garba, who delivered the lead ruling of the tribunal, held that INEC having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as alleged by the petitioners, granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
“This will be unpalatable,” Justice Garba held. He added that granting the application would imply that the court had “indeed recognized and found out that there is a central server into which results of the held on February 23, 2019 were electronically transmitted by the 1st respondent (INEC)”.
He said the Supreme Court had on many occasions warned judges to desist from “making observations, comments or pronouncements in its rulings with any likely effect of prejudging the main issue that can be regarded as the issue to be tried in the course of trial.”