Posted by From GODWIN TSA and JOY MBAEYI Abuja on
Attempts by two Presidential candidates in last month’s elections, Major- General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC) to challenge the election victory of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’ Adua of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Election Tribunal suffered a setback
Attempts by two Presidential candidates in last month’s elections, Major- General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC) to challenge the election victory of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’ Adua of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Election Tribunal suffered a setback on Thursday as the Court of Appeal, rejected their applications seeking to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to permit them to inspect and copy the electoral materials used for the presidential election.
The applications, which were brought pursuant to section 159 (1) and (2) of the electoral Act 2006 and section 239 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution respectively were rejected by the court on the grounds that they did not accompany the petitions challenging the outcome of the presidential election in which INEC declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua as the winner.
But the two presidential candidates said they were filing their substantive petitions against the result of the April polls before the court by next week.
Section 239  [a] of the 1999 constitution conferred the Court of Appeal with the powers to hear and determine whether or not, a person has been validly elected to the position of the president or vice president.
It reads: (1) “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the Court of Appeal shall, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to whether:
(b)“Any person has been validly elected to the office of president or Vice president under this constitution…”
While section 159 (1) (2) of the Electoral Act provides:
“(1) An order of an inspection of a polling document or an inspection of a document or any packet in the custody of the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or any other officer of the Commission may be made by the Election tribunal or the court if it is satisfied that the order required if for the purpose of instituting or maintaining an election petition.
“(2) A document other than a document referred to in subsection (1) of this section relating to an election and which is retained by the Chief National electoral Commissioner or any other officer of the Commission in accordance with this section shall be open for inspection on an order made by the election tribunal or a court in exercise of its powers to compel the production of documents in legal proceedings, but shall not otherwise be open for inspection.”
Meanwhile, checks at the office of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Rita Enuinam by Daily Sun revealed that so far, it is only the presidential candidate of the National Action Council [NAC], Dr. Olapade Agoro who has filed a petition against the result of the presidential elections.
Some of the election materials requested by Vice President Atiku for inspection and copying from the INEC include the followings; forms EC8A, EC8B, and EC8D used in the presidential elections held on April 21, 2007, copy of form EC8E, specimen copies of the ballot papers used in the said election.
Others are copies of the form EC25 (Electoral material receipt) and EC40c [Ballot paper Account and verification statement] used to dispatch and ballot papers and election results in each of the 36 states, and their constituencies, local government, area wards and polling units.
The rest are list of Ad-hoc staff engaged in the conduct of the election in each of the 36 states and their constituent Local Government Areas, wards and polling units (save Lagos and Abuja) and copies of voters’ register used in all the 36 states of the federation used at the polling stations for the 2007 presidential elections.
In an affidavit in support of his application, Atiku who has hired the services of eleven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) led by Professor Ben Nwabueze, is challenging the victory of Yar’ Adua
On the grounds of brazen non-compliance with the Electoral Act, his exclusion from the polls, rigging, over-voting, snatching of ballot boxes and violence in polling units at different Local Government Areas amongst others.
Others in the legal team of the Vice President are; Professor A. B. Kasunmu, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, Professor Itse Sagay, Rickey Tarfa, Adeniyi Akintola, Chief Emeka Ngige, Adetunji Oyeyipo, T. Ashaolu, Kemi Pinhero and Mike Aondoakaa.
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