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Sunday, May 19, 2024

BVAS failure to transmit presidential poll results revealed by INEC staff at tribunal

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In a crucial development at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), two witnesses, Mr. Friday Egwuma and Ms. Grace Timothy, who were subpoenaed by presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), admitted that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) failed to transmit the results of the February 25 presidential election after the collation process.

As ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Egwuma and Timothy disclosed that the BVAS machines assigned to them encountered system errors immediately after transmitting the results of the Senate and House of Representatives elections. This confirmation supports the allegations that the presidential election results were not transmitted in real time through BVAS, as mandated by the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC guidelines.

According to their testimony, the two INEC workers resorted to alternative means to transmit the results when it became evident that the BVAS machines would not function properly. Egwuma served as a Presiding Officer in a polling unit in Abia State, while Timothy worked for INEC in Plateau State.

Under cross-examination by Abubakar Mahmud SAN, who represented the electoral body, Egwuma explained that he relied on an offline system instead of the BVAS machines.

Grace Timothy, in her testimony, informed the Court that the most significant challenge she encountered during the election was uploading the presidential election results into the I-Rev portal.

The witnesses also underwent cross-examination by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, representing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, who stood for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Earlier, Tinubu and the APC strongly opposed Atiku’s attempt to present the ad hoc staff as witnesses in his petition challenging Tinubu’s declaration as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.

In his bid to substantiate the alleged irregularities in the election, Atiku subpoenaed three INEC ad hoc workers to provide firsthand accounts of their experiences related to the February 25 presidential election, specifically regarding the transmission and execution of the election results.

However, Tinubu, represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, objected to the use of the witnesses’ sworn statements to aid Atiku’s petition, arguing that the statements were not front-loaded during the filing of the petition.

Olanipekun SAN cited various provisions of the law to support his arguments against the use of the witnesses, contending that since they were subpoenaed by Atiku as the petitioner, their sworn statements should have been front-loaded along with the petition.

Tinubu’s objections to the subpoenaed witnesses were supported by Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, representing the APC, and Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, appearing for INEC.

In response, Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN, urged the Court to dismiss the objections, asserting that they were unfounded attempts to delay the proceedings.

Uche argued that the objections raised by Tinubu, the APC, and INEC were deliberate tactics aimed at slowing down the case. He maintained that the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been front-loaded with the petition because they were summoned after the petition was filed.

The Court reserved its ruling on the objections, but Presiding Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani ordered the taking of evidence from the three subpoenaed witnesses and allowed cross-examination by the respondents.

The next hearing in the petition has been adjourned to June 9.

 

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