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Shock as INEC Closes Defence at Tribunal After One Witness

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, closed its defense against allegations of election rigging in the 2023 Presidential Election on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.

The Labour Party’s candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, had alleged that the election was rigged in favor of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

During the defense, INEC produced only one witness, Mr. Lawrence Bayode, out of the three that were initially lined up. Bayode, a Deputy Director of ICT at INEC, testified before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, in Abuja.

While being cross-examined, Bayode argued that the polling unit results captured and transmitted to the IReV portal through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines were not relevant for the collation of presidential election results.

He maintained this stance despite Obi’s claim that blurred results were uploaded to the result viewing portal.

Furthermore, Bayode, who has over 24 years of experience working with INEC, stated that he was not aware of the specific INEC website from which Obi and the Labour Party claimed to have downloaded the blurred results.

Addressing concerns about technical glitches during the election, Bayode admitted that there were issues that affected real-time transmission of results.

However, he insisted that these glitches did not impact the collation of votes at the polling units.

He advised the petitioners to obtain physical copies of the polling unit results if they had issues with the clarity of the results on the IReV portal.

Additionally, Bayode revealed that INEC tested the technology it deployed for the election to ascertain its functionality.

He also mentioned that INEC had a “cloud trail log account” with Amazon Web Services, which provided the technological infrastructure for the election.

He stated that this account could be accessed to reveal patches that were deployed to fix glitches on election day.

After Bayode’s testimony, INEC’s lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, announced that the Commission would not be producing any more witnesses. “My lords, that will be all for the 1st Respondent,” he stated.

Mr. Peter Obi and the Labour Party are challenging the outcome of the election, contending that President Bola Tinubu was not the valid winner.

They have raised concerns about his eligibility and qualifications, and alleged corrupt practices and non-compliance with electoral regulations by INEC.

Among the evidence tendered by Obi were polling unit results from 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, documents containing the number of Permanent Voters Cards collected, and video exhibits including a press conference where the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, assured that election results would be electronically transmitted.

The case has now moved on to the next phase, where President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, will open their defense.

Justice Haruna Tsammani, leading the five-member panel, adjourned the matter until Wednesday for further proceedings.

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