By Nwangwu Uba
Those who think that the three-man election petition which had given the nod to Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the party, to inspect the electoral materials including the voters used during the election may have foreclosed the matter should have a rethink. This because President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, who had been declared the winner of the February 23, 2019, election, and given the certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had also approached the Tribunal to inspect the electoral materials on the allegations that the PDP had rigged in the states won in the election, thus making the election messier. Recall, that Adams Oshiomhole , a former governor of Edo state and National Chairman of APC, had said that it was not only Atiku and the PDP that know the road to the Election Tribunal or Court to argue out their case that there was rigging in the PDP controlled state. Oshiomhole many have sent a signal to the Presidential Candidate Camp to prepare to meet with the APC at the Tribunal and the Court. True to his words ,he had forced Buhari, the party Candidate in the february 23, 2019, Presidential election, to head to the election petition Tribunal and the Court to challenge Atiku, in the states won during the Presidential election.
On Thursday, March14, 2019, Abdul Aboki, a legal luminary and Justice of the Supreme Court was said to have given the go ahead to the Katsina state born Nigerian President to inspect the materials used during the conduct of the Presidential election following an applications filed by on his behalf and the APC , by Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who was said to be leading a team of prominent lawyers for the case.
In the ex parte motion that was said to have been filed at the Tribunal by Olanipekun and his team of Lawyers on behalf of President Buhari, the APC Candidate and the APC, the party under which he cotested the election had pleaded with the three-member Tribunal to be given access to inspect the materials used by INEC, during the conduct of the Presidential election . The Buhari and APC team of Lawyers had argued that it would enable their clients to defend themselves in the petition which Atiku, the PDP , Candidate had written against the elected President, APC and the INEC.
The Tribunal did not hesitate in telling the Olanipekun team of Lawyers that there is merit in their appeal and thus, ordered INEC, to allow Buhari , the APC, Candidate in the election and the party access to inspect the materials used during the conduct of the election and to make photocopy of the documents.
The same order had earlier been given to the electoral umpire to allow Atiku and the PDP access to the electoral documents used during the Presidential election but it s request for forensic studies of the fingerprints on the ground that it was part of its mandate to do so.
Many fear that that the Tribunal and the Courts may not be able to dispose the cases before June 13, 2019, Nigeria’s Democracy. When the re-elected President Buhari , ought to be sworn in by Ibrahi Tanko Mohammed, acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, for a second term in office. This is because of the litany of documents that would be inspected by the contending parties , which may take months to complete, fueling speculation that the case may drag on beyond the June 13, 2019. There are fears that Mohammed, the acting CJN, may broke protocol to swear in the re-elected President Buhari whether the Tribunal or the Appeal Court disposes the cases or not to avoid throwing the country into major Constitutional crisis. political watchers had said there was no basis for the dual to have gone to the Election Tribunal to be given access to inspect the electoral materials as they would never find it wrong as the card read readers would normally read well. They noted that INEC officials knew the card readers were tampered before the election but would never come out to say it to avoid disrupting the electoral process. The PDP had accused the APC of using the card reader to rig the Presidential and governorship elections . The APC in turn had also accused the PDP of rigging the election by falsifying the election results in states won both at the Presidential and governorship election. They believe that the duo, Atiku and Buhari, the two leading Candidates in the just concluded Presidential election are out to through the country into confussion.
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