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2019 elections: Atiku scores victory over INEC in court (9JA NEWS)

Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has secured a major victory on Wednesday after a court ordered the nation’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to allow the former Vice President of the country to have access to all electoral materials. This comes as a result of the PDP accusing INEC of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to the PDP, this was done through the militarization of polls in its strongholds and skewing the process in the favour of the ruling party. This was contained in a letter the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, handed over to INEC management during a peaceful protest it organised to express its grievances about the February polls to the electoral umpire. The protesters had marched from the PDP complex in Maitama, Abuja popularly called Legacy House to INEC headquarters.

The tribunal will conduct its proceedings at the Court of Appeal Headquarters in Abuja. Atiku and PDP in the motion ex-parte applied for leave of the tribunal to allow them to inspect the voters register, the smart card reader machines, ballot papers and other vital documents used in the conduct of the presidential election. They also want the tribunal to compel the electoral body to allow their agents to scan and make photocopies of vital documents used in the conduct of the election, for the purpose of establishing alleged irregularities.

The applicants, through their lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the tribunal that the reliefs sought against INEC was for the purpose of filing and maintaining an election petition they intended to lodge against the outcome of the 2019 presidential election. The motion ex-parte was supported with a 12-paragraphed affidavit deposed to by one Col. Austin Akobundu (retd), Director of Contact and Mobilisation of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council.

No date has yet been fixed for hearing of the motion, which has INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress, APC, as 1st to 3rd respondents. Atiku, who came second behind President Buhari of the APC, had earlier vowed to challenge the outcome of the presidential election in court, alleging that it was fraught with manifest irregularities. PDP to petition UN over alleged militarisation of February 23 elections On suit seeking to void Buhari’s election, disqualify Atiku.

Meanwhile, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, approved hearing on a suit seeking to invalidate the election victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over allegation that he violated section 91(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended. Justice Ahmed Mohammed ordered substituted service of the suit on Buhari, through the All Progressives Congress, APC. The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/191/2019, was lodged before the court by the candidate of National Rescue Movement, NRM, in the February 23 presidential election, Usman Ibrahim Alhaji.

PIC. 4. A PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED VOTER BEING ACCREDITED AT GARKI PRIMARY SCHOOL POLLING UNIT IN ABUJA ON SATURDAY (28/3/15). 1653/28/3/2015/ZI/BJO/NAN
Specifically, the Plaintiff, alleged that contrary to provisions of the Electoral Act, President Buhari expended more than one billion naira during his campaign for re-election. He asked the court to also invalidate the participation of the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, alleging that he was equally in breach of clear provisions of the electoral law. Cited as defendants in the suit were Buhari, APC, Atiku, PDP and INEC.

Meanwhile, before the matter was adjourned till March 26 for hearing, Justice Mohammed directed that all the relevant processes be served on Buhari and Atiku, through the legal departments of their respective political parties. The order for substituted service was made after counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Ezekiel Ofou, told the court that his client found it extremely difficult to serve the court papers on either Buhari or Atiku, due to retinue of security aides around them. Ofou therefore moved an ex-parte order for leave to reach the two defendants through their parties, a request that was granted by the court.

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