The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has rejected the request of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to have access to the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
A five-man panel of the tribunal led by Mohammed Garba unanimously refused the request, saying issues have been joined by parties on the existence or otherwise of the server.
The judges say the tribunal cannot delve into those issues at the interlocutory stage.
The three respondents are INEC, Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress.
Dismissing the application, the tribunal held that granting it would amount to pre-judging the main issue meant for trial during the substantive hearing of the petition.
Justice Garba, who delivered the lead ruling of the tribunal, held that INEC having denied the existence of the said server and insisted that results of the election were not electronically transmitted into any server as alleged by the petitioners, granting the application would amount to deciding the central issue in the petition at the interlocutory stage.
“This will be unpallalatable,” Justice Garba held.
He added that granting the application would imply that the court had “indeed recognised and found out that there is a central server into which results of the held on February 23, 2019 were electronically transmitted by the 1st respondent (INEC)”.
He said the Supreme Court had on many occasions warned judges to desist from “making observations, comments or pronouncements in its rulings with any likely effect of prejudging the main issue that can be regarded as the issue to be tried in the course of trial.”