Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a fresh petition filed before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), has requested access to smart card readers and central server which was used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
The petition was filed through Atiku’s lawyers led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN).
Atiku had rejected the outcome of the presidential poll, saying that he won the election with over 1.6million votes according to results he obtained from INEC computer server.
INEC which on February 27 declared President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the election however denied knowledge of any server, saying that results of the election were not collated nor transmitted electronically.
PDP and Atiku however stated that INEC was constitutionally vested with the responsibility to conduct and manage the presidential election and set up electronic data central servers.
“The 1st respondent, as the body constitutionally and statutorily vested with the responsibility to conduct and manage the presidential election, set up electronic data central servers for the purposes of storage of transmitted accreditation data and results from smart card readers deployed for the election in an apparent bid to ensure relative transparency of the process.
“The respondents have, in their replies, joined issues with the petitioners in respect of the said data transmitted to the INEC’s central servers.”
“The Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) itself acknowledges network data by recognition given to the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission in section 71 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). We also submit that section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011 recognises computer data, and evidence generated therefrom.
“Thus, the general framework of the law accommodates such data retrievable from computers, of which a server is a storage component.”
PDP and its candidate further insisted that results of the February 23 presidential election were electronically transmitted to INEC server, adding that it would be unjust to restrict them access to the said server.
“The data from the said central server is very material and relevant for the just determination of this petition.
“The petitioners require the data from the said central servers to maintain this petition.
“The petitioners also require the extract of the data from the smart card readers for the maintenance of the petition.
“The smart card readers were used at the said election for verification, accreditation, and authentication of voters and for the transmission of results to the 1st respondent’s servers.”
“It will work tremendous hardship and grave injustice to refuse access to the contents of the central server that will assist the honourable court in the just consideration and determination of the issues involved in this matter or to allow a Party suppress or withhold access thereto.”
Their petition reads further below;
“This motion is brought pursuant to Section 151 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Section 71 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Paragraphs 18 (7) (e), 41 (5) and (6), 47 (2) & 54 of the First Schedule to Electoral Act, 2010, (as amended), Section 6 (6) (b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and under the Inherent Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court.
“The motion prays for the following orders as expressed on the face of the motion paper, namely:
“An order allowing access or a court-supervised access and inspection by the Petitioners, in the presence of the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Buhari and APC) if they so desire, of the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) central servers wherein information was recorded and stored in database packets relating to accreditation of voters and transmission of results from the Presidential election, the subject-matter of this petition.
“An order directing the 1st respondent’s Chief National Electoral Commissioner and/or other officers to grant the petitioners access to the said database packets in the 1st respondent’s central servers.
“An order granting leave to the petitioners to inspect and obtain certified true copies of Smart Card Reader accreditation data from the Smart Card Readers used in the said election and stored in the 1st respondent’s servers.
“An order granting leave to the petitioners to file a report of the inspection, examination and analysis thereof at the trial.”
Atiku insisted that results from the server shows that he got 18,356,732 votes, while Buhari got 16,741,430 votes. Consequently, Atiku approached the PEPT to challenge the outcome of the election.
Atiku and his party, PDP, seek permission from the tribunal to examine and analyse the information it obtained from the card readers and server.
He had vowed to bring in experts from IBM, Oracle and Microsoft to prove that the results were true.