PEPC: INEC Closes Defence Against Obi/LP Petition, Produce Only One Witness

Mahmood Yakubu Anouncing election result

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has heard both sides of the case on the petition filed by Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP). The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has opened and closed its defense in the case.

After the conclusion of the evidence of the first respondent’s one and only witness, Dr. Lawrence Bayode, a Deputy Director in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department of INEC, the attorney for INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, made the announcement that the case against the first respondent would be dismissed.

INEC presented various documents, which were subsequently accepted into evidence and labeled as exhibits, prior to bringing on one of its witnesses.

The witness testified in court that he had been employed by INEC for a period of twenty-four years, with Mahmood serving as the chief speaker.

During the course of Patrick Ikwueto’s cross-examination, the witness stated before the court that the application for the election’s software was put through its paces for testing on February 4th. Ikwueto is the attorney for the petitioners.

He went on to say that there was a report regarding the testing, but he did not have it with him in the courtroom.

However, the petitioners presented the E-Transmission Saver Web and compliance form through the witness. This submission was reviewed, and it was determined to be admissible and documented as evidence.

The witness testified in front of the court that the pre-production test was conducted prior to the election.

When questioned if the hard copy of the findings would be different from the ones that are in the IreV, he responded that it would not be the case.

However, he did note that anything was possible when it came to the process of forwarding the results of Form EC8A to the IreV.

He stated that testing for functionality, performance, and vulnerabilities was conducted before the election.

The witness concurred with Ikwueto’s assessment that the report of the e-Transmission application indicates remediation that has to be carried out in order to fix the high vulnerability that was found in the report.

The witness stated that he is not familiar with the online site of INEC, which is where its documents are published.

In the course of his cross-examination, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, counsel for Tinubu and Shettima, questioned the witness whether the foundation and authenticity of any election conducted by INEC are anchored in Forms EC8A and EC8E, and the witness responded in the affirmative.

The witness further stated that blurry papers obtained from INEC IreV would not have an effect on the physical results in Form EC8A due to the fact that the image itself is irrelevant.

He claimed that the election was over once the recording, snapping, and sending to INEC’s IreV were completed.

In response to queries posed by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, counsel for the APC, the witness stated that the physical results are factored into the calculation of the election’s final results.

According to him, the technical difficulties that arose on the day of the election did not have any impact on the overall tallying of the votes.

He went on to say that the physical results might also be retrieved in case the information that was downloaded from the IreV was not entirely clear.

In addition, he stated before the court that ECOWAS had observers at the poll, but he does not have a copy of their report.

The witness claimed that an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account could be used to get the cloud trial log account that is used by INEC.

In addition, he stated that this demonstrates the patches that were deployed on E-transmission programs hosted on AWS in order to correct the problems that were experienced on the day of the election.

Following the testimony of the lone witness, Mahmoud informed the judge that INEC’s defense in the Obi and Labour Party petition has been exhausted.

After some time had passed, Olanipekun informed the judge that Tinubu and Shetimma, who are listed as the second and third respondents in the petition, would tomorrow begin presenting their defense.

Tinubu and Shettima will have to wait until tomorrow to begin presenting their defense after the five-judge panel presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani postponed the hearing.

Petitioners Obi and his Labour Party (LP) are disputing the results of the election that brought President Bola Tinubu into office. Their petition has the designation CA/PEPC/03/2023.

Respondents include both the president and vice president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, respectively, as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC).