Presidential Election: Atiku, PDP Withdraws Fresh Application
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, withdrew a new application they had submitted to force the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to permit their agents to take part in the process of sorting out the ballots used in the February 25 presidential election.
The party withdrew the case on Wednesday, Bola Tinubu, the candidate for the ruling All Progressives Congress, won the election, but the PDP and Atiku, who are both separately contesting the results, informed the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja that they were no longer interested in the application.
When the motion ex-parte CA/PEC/10M/2023 was called up for hearing, Atiku informed the court that he had filed a notice of discontinuance through his legal team, which was led by Mr Joe Kyari Gadzama, SAN.
Atiku’s decision to withdraw the application follows a meeting his legal team held with the leadership of the electoral body on Tuesday.
“We filed the application owing to challenges and administrative bottlenecks we encountered at the INEC office when we went for access to the election materials as ordered by the court.
“However, before the application dated March 13 could be slated for hearing, INEC, on its own, called our legal team for a meeting.
“It was at that meeting which was held yesterday (Tuesday) that all the grey areas were sorted out, with INEC, pledging to allow our agents to observe the process of sorting out some of the electoral materials we requested for, especially the ballot papers.
“Since that was primarily our prayer in the fresh application we filed, we felt that it would not be necessary to proceed with the hearing. So, to save judicial time, we filed a notice of discontinuance which was accordingly granted”, a member of Atiku’s legal team, who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, told Vanguard.
Meanwhile, following the withdrawal of the application, Justice Joseph Ikyegh-led three-member panel struck it out.
Atiku had specifically argued in the withdrawn application, which was supported by 11 grounds, that party representatives needed to be present during the organization of the electoral materials he would need to prepare a petition he intended to file challenging the results of the presidential election.
He said that to comply with the ex-parte order the court issued on March 3, it was necessary for his agents to watch and/or take part in the material sorting he demanded in all of INEC’s regional and national offices.
The tribunal had in the said order, directed INEC to allow the Applicants, Atiku and PDP, to inspect, scan, and carry out forensic examination and analysis of the ballot papers, data form, BVAS/and or card readers, including photocopying of the ballot papers, information stored in the computer server/IREV.
Atiku argued that allowing the agents of his party to be on the ground while the materials are sorted out, would ensure transparency in the process and guarantee that the ballot papers would not be tampered with.
Remember that while the court ordered INEC to give access to the voting materials to both Atiku and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, who finished third in the election, in a later order on March 8 the panel authorized the electoral body to modify the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines it used for the presidential election.