Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s nominee for president, pleaded with the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Thursday to force the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make its ICT officers accessible for questioning by his team of attorneys and experts.
Mr. Obi wants to question INEC’s ICT staff on how the Internet was used to conduct the presidential election on February 25.
President Bola Tinubu’s declaration that he had won the election is being contested by Mr. Obi.
He accuses INEC of influencing the election in Mr. Tinubu’s (of the All Progressives Congress, or APC) favor.
He said there had been fraud and violations of the law.
Two of INEC’s ad hoc electoral officers testified in court earlier on Thursday on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, who is contesting Mr. Tinubu’s election victory in a similar manner.
On Thursday, when it came time for the court to hear Mr. Obi’s case, his attorney, Patrick Ikweto, questioned the caliber of the ICT specialists and professionals who oversaw the presidential election.
In two requests, Mr. Ikweto requested the court to direct the electoral commission to provide him the names and other information of its ICT experts who used electronic voting machines.
Mr. Ikweto created 12 inquiries to be sent to INEC.
If the court agrees to their motion, Mr. Obi’s legal team claims they would be able to ask pertinent questions and get answers that will help their case.
But Mr. Obi’s requests to question election officials were resisted by INEC’s legal counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The requests, according to Mr. Pinheiro, were inadequate.
He argued that Mr. Obi’s demands should have been made at the pre-hearing session of the court.
The court streamlined the processes for the trial of the substantive petition after holding its pre-hearing hearings for two weeks.
Mr. Pinhero said that the court lacked the authority to approve Mr. Obi’s requests.
Akin Olujimi, the attorney for Mr. Tinubu, and Lateef Fagbemi, the attorney for the APC, both SANs, joined INEC in contesting Mr. Obi’s demands.
The attorneys requested that the court reject the petitions on the grounds that they were ineligible.
The five-member panel of the court, presided over by Haruna Tsammani, deferred judgment on the requests after hearing the attorneys’ arguments.
The lawsuit’s future hearing was postponed by the court until Friday.