By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, fixed August 29 for President Goodluck Jonathan to respond to a fresh application filed before it by the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, seeking an order declaring its candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as the bona-fide winner of the April 16 presidential election.
A five-man panel of justices headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, equally directed the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to react to allegations of conspiracy levelled at them by the petitioner.
The CPC had in a motion on notice it filed pursuant to paragraph 18(11) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, and Section 149 (D) of the Evidence Act, alleged subterranean collaboration between the PDP and the INEC, insisting that it was the grand reason the electoral body refused to make available to it any of the materials used in the conduct of the April 16 Presidential election.
At the resumed sitting on the case yesterday, counsel to Jonathan, Chief Damian Dodo, SAN; the PDP, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, and INEC, Mr Hassan Liman, sought time to file their respective counter-affidavits, alleging that the CPC deliberately failed to serve the process on them in good time.
Meantime, while adducing reasons why President Jonathan should be sacked by the tribunal, CPC in its application averred that, “the Petitioner was one of the registered political parties that contested the Presidential Election held on the 16th day of April, 2011 and had in consequence thereof demanded for election materials from the 1st Respondent vide series of letters written to that effect before, during and at the conclusion of the election.
“That 1st and 2nd Respondents denied the Petitioner’s request by failing to make copies of the requested election materials available to the Applicant and the Applicant was as a result forced to file an application dated the 15th May, 2011 for an order directing the 1st and 2nd Respondents to produce for the inspection of the Applicants and permitting it to take copies of the election material used in the conduct of the election.
“That this Honourable Court had on the 24th day of May, 2011 granted an order pursuant to the application referred to in paragraph 2 above in the following terms:
“An order that INEC shall grant the Petitioner and any other party in the petition their counsel agents or experts access to the biometric Data Base created by the DDC machines for register of voters, used at the Presidential Election held on 16th April, 2011.
“That INEC shall give notice to parties as to time, date and place for such exercise provided that the absence of a party duly notified shall not delay such exercise.
“An order that INEC shall grant access to the Petitioner and any other party to the petition, their counsel and their experts, to inspect and take certified True Copy (CTC) of election materials i.e.
“Register of Voters used in all the Polling Units at Presidential Election held on 16/04/2011. Electoral Forms EC8 A, B, C, D & E and Manual for the Election
“List of Officials of INEC including ad-hoc staff who participated in the conduct of the election. Records of Ballot paper distribution throughout the Federation. Ballot papers used in the Presidential Election held on 16/04/2011.
“Access for inspection and taking of copies of the election materials shall be at the statutory location of such election materials i.e. Custody of Resident Electoral Commissioners in various states.
“Custody Chairman of INEC provided all necessary official fees for such certification are paid. That the Respondents have colluded to frustrate the execution of the Order and contended, among others, that they would not allow access to the database, which they claimed, is not necessary for the proof of the Petitioner’s case.
“That even though the order for inspection was granted early enough in the proceeding, the Applicants’ efforts to take advantage of the order was met with series of frustrations evidenced by exhibits 1 – 12”.
It would be recalled that the CPC had gone to the tribunal with a view to voiding the results that were garnered by the PDP in all the 17 states in the South, as well as those of Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Kwara, Benue, Adamawa, Nasarawa states, in the North and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
It alleged that the ballot papers meant for certain polling units were illegally diverted to other units and were subsequently used for ballot stuffing, even as it has equally asked the tribunal to declare that president Jonathan failed to fulfill the requirement of section 134 (2) of the 1999 constitution.
The petitioner is specifically praying the tribunal to nullify the April 16 presidential election and order a re-run between it and the ruling PDP.