The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has closed its defence in the petition filed by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi challenging president Bola Tinubu’s victory after calling one witness to testify before the Presidential Election petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
Abubakar Mahmoud, counsel to INEC announced the closure of the case after its sole witness Lawrence Bayode, INEC’s Director of Information Technology (IT) department, adopted his witness statement on oath deposed to the on April 10, 2023 and testified before the court on Tuesday.
Before the witness testified, counsel to INEC tendered Certified True copies of some electoral documents to include Certified True Copies of Tinubu’s letter dated July 6, INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of Election 2022, and INEC Manual for Election Officials.
Led in evidence by Mahmoud, the witness tendered Amazon Web Services cloud trail logs on INEC’s E-transmission system/IREV portal. He told the court that the cloud trail log was obtained from INEC’s account on Amazon Web Services and shows the activity of the patches that were deployed on the e-transmission application on AWS to fix the glitches that INEC alleged to have encountered on election day.
The court admitted the documents as exhibits and considered them read and demonstrated before the court, despite objections raised by Obi’s legal team.
Under cross-examination by Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Tinubu and vice President Shettima, the witness said the foundation of any election conducted by INEC is the results recorded in Forms EC8As and that blurred results downloaded from INEC’s IREV will not affect the results recorded in Form EC8As.
He said the blurred results downloaded from the portal did not affect physical results recorded in Form EC8A at polling units. Obi had alleged that 18,088 polling unit results downloaded from IREV were blurred and amounted to about 2.5 million potential votes for him. The court had also admitted the blurred result sheets in Obi’s petition.
Replying Olanipekun’s question on what amounts to completion of an electoral process, the witness said elections are practically concluded at the polling unit when the presiding officers input election results into Form EC8As, announce openly to all parties and their agents, signs Form EC8As, and use the Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine to capture the forms.
He also said the images uploaded on IREV are not relevant for collation of results.
The witness further said that he was aware that the E-Naira, launched in October 2021, has not been activated due to technological hitches and the App had to be taken from the Google Play store to fix its the glitches.
Under cross-examination by lead counsel of the All Progressives Congress, Lateef Fagbemi, the witness maintained that the Form EC8A was the primary source of INEC’s collation of results.
Under cross examination by Obi’s lawyer, Patrick Ikwueto, Bayode said INEC’s e-transmission application was tested before it was deployed and the testing of the e-transmission application was done on February 4. He said the AWS cloud trail log will contain the following features: Invent time, Invent source, Invent name, AWS region, Resource IP Address and Identity Access Management Address.
Obi’s lawyer then tendered the INEC e-transmission document testing report dated February 22 as evidence and it was admitted as Peter Obi’s exhibits by the court.
When the witness was asked to explain if Form EC8A that is snapped on the BVAS machines and uploaded on IREV portal can be corrupted, the witness replied that anything could happen to the image when sending yo IREV but will not alter the content.
After his testimony, INEC lawyer, Mahmoud, closed his defence in Obi’s petition
Olanipekun, then informed the court that Tinubu and Shettima, listed as the second and third respondents in the petition, will open their defence on Wednesday.
Consequently , the five-member panel of justice led by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned to Wednesday for opening of defence of Tinubu and APC.