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Tribunal dismisses LP, Obi’s request to question INEC on technology deployed

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Saturday dismissed the application filed by the Labour Party and Mr Peter Obi seeking an order to question INEC on the technology it deployed for the conduct of the general elections.


Obi and LP are petitioners in the petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 challenging the election which brought president Bola Tinubu into power


Respondents are the INEC, President Bola Tinubu and Vice president Kashim Shettima and All Progressives Congress (APC).


Ruling on the application, the five-member panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani held that it lacked the jurisdiction to grant the request as it was brought outside the pre-hearing session and therefore incompetent.


“It is an afterthought on the grounds that the pre-hearing period to file such an application elapsed on May 22.


“I have not disputed the fact that they did not call the attention of the court during the pre-hearing session.


“It is for the applicant to take a step towards the hearing of his motion on notice. The court cannot do that for him.


“The petitioners’ counsel are very conversant with the provisions of the law and did not ask for an extension of time.


”They rather seek to employ the right to fair hearing as a magic wand to escape the consequence of their failure to comply with the law and blame the court for its inaction,” the court held.


The court also held that the applicants failed to disclose any extreme circumstance that stopped them from filing within the statutory time.


In an unanimous decision, the court stated that motions cannot be heard at the hearing session and as such can be deemed as abandoned.


”Their application is incompetent and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it and accordingly, the application is struck out,” it held.


The petitioners, among other reasons for disputing the outcome of the elections, are accusing the electoral umpire of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.


Their concerns also included failure to transmit the results of the presidential election in real-time on the INEC results viewing portal as assured.


In their effort to support the grounds of their petition, the petitioners had asked the court to permit them to question INEC on the technology deployed to conduct the election including the quality of the ICT experts who oversaw the conduct of the election.


In two applications, the petitioners through their lawyer, Patrick Ikweto, SAN, urged the court to order INEC to supply the names and other details of its ICT professionals that deployed electronic devices for the conduct of the election.


Specifically, the petitioners maintained that given INEC’s reply to their petition, it should be compelled to answer 12 questions posed to them.


The added the date the electoral body conducted functionality tests on the system it deployed for the elections, as well as names and details of those that conducted the test.


They further required INEC to answer the following questions: “Who created/deployed the four Applications Patches/Updates to fix the HTTP 500 error that prevented the e-transmission of the results of the Presidential election on 25th February 2023?


“What was the exact time of the occurrence of the technical glitch which prevented the e-transmission of the result of the Presidential election on 25th February 2023?


“What time were the technological glitches fixed and or repaired?


“What percentage of the result of the Presidential election was uploaded on the I-Rev on February 25?


“What percentage of the result of the Presidential election was uploaded on the I-Rev at the time of the declaration of the Result of the Presidential election on March 1?”


(National Accord)


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