Yesterday, in Abuja the Court of Appeal adjourned till today for ruling in an application by the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking to vary the court’s order for review of supplies used for the conduct of the presidential election on February 25.
The All-Progressives Congress (APC) and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, both filed requests with the court today,
requesting authorization to conduct a comparable inspection of the election-related materials used for the February 25 presidential election.
Date for decision in INEC’s request to modify the court’s order was issued by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, who presided over a
three-member panel of the Court of Appeal. That happened soon after the attorneys for the parties to the lawsuit approved
and presented their respective argumentative briefs for and against the motion.
There have been concerns raised about the validity of the just-concluded election following INEC’s request for an order to
modify the court’s prior authorization for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) to inspect materials
used by the commission in the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which was used in the presidential election, needed to be reconfigured,
according to INEC, before the voting equipment could be used in the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections on March 11.
IT experts, however, cautioned THISDAY that issuing the order would enable the electoral body to tamper with the evidence,
jeopardize the ongoing legal proceedings regarding the contentious presidential election, and further erode the process’s credibility.
According to the IT professionals, INEC did not need to modify the BVAS before the governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the LP, who were running for president, recently secured a court order allowing them
to examine the BVAS as part of their challenge to the results of the presidential election.
The APC candidate, Tinubu, was named the winner of the tumultuous presidential election by INEC.
The reconfiguration was necessary, according to the electoral umpire, in order to implement the
BVAS for the upcoming governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
INEC pleaded with the court to approve its motion through its attorney, Mr. Inuwa Tanimu, and assured the
court that the defendants had nothing to worry about because the information that would be lost during reconfiguration would be saved on a server that was located in the cloud.
Tanimu pointed out that the electoral umpire did not have time on his side and warned that if the earlier ruling was left in place,
it might have an impact on how the March 11 governorship election was conducted.
Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu and Chief Emeka Etiaba, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), who were defending Peter Obi
and Atiku Abubakar, respectively, opposed the request to change the order, claiming that doing so would erase crucial evidence that would have helped them prove their cases.
BVAS is the only source, according to Ikpeazu, of the actual number of registered electors, and if the BVAS devices are
manipulated for the purpose of reconfiguration, a lot of important information will be lost.
The senior attorney further contended that if necessary, the March 11 elections could be postponed. He urged the judge to reject the commission’s application.
Meanwhile, Ikpeazu requested the court to grant his clients permission to conduct a physical/digital forensic
examination of the presidential electoral materials as well as an order instructing INEC to issue him a Certified True Copy (CTC) of registered voters and polling units’ results.
In an election where INEC failed to ensure instantaneous transmission of results to its IReV at the conclusion of voting at
polling units as originally planned for the 2023 general election, Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, was reported to
have received a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rival and PDP presidential candidate Atiku, who received 6,984,520 votes, and Peter Obi of the LP, who received 6,101,533 votes.
Both Atiku and Obi promised to air their grievances at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the court tasked
with hearing and deciding cases pertaining to the conduct of the presidential election, after they were dissatisfied with the declaration of Tinubu as the election’s victor.
Atiku and Obi asked the court for permission to examine the materials used for the February 25 presidential election in
separate motions ex parte while they had not yet submitted their respective petitions.
According to them, the order was given to help them collect the necessary proof to support claims of noncompliance and election rigging.
Both Atiku and Obi assert that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling APC, and
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu received the greatest number of votes cast in the majority of the states, and as a result,
they should be declared the victor. They accuse INEC of rigging the election in their favor.
Today, the appeals court will also decide on the applications made by APC and Tinubu, who are pleading with it to grant
them permission to conduct a similar examination of the voting equipment used in the February 25 presidential election.
Akintola Makinde, the attorney for Tinubu, stated that in order to prepare his defense against petitions that attempted to
invalidate the presidential election, he would need to examine, scan, and make photocopies of some of the electoral materials.
Makinde raised the issue yesterday at the Abuja meeting.
PDP Warns of Reported Plans to Remove and Destroy Rigging Proof
In a related development, PDP yesterday expressed concern over an alleged INEC plot to reconfigure the BVAS in order to
remove and destroy evidence of rigging in the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25.
According to PDP, allowing INEC to reconfigure the BVAS would erase all traces of the fraud that occurred on February 25.
Debo Ologunagba, the PDP’s national publicity secretary, said to journalists during a press conference yesterday in Abuja:
“We have called you to inform Nigerians and the international community of INEC’s appalling move to destroy and erase
evidence of its intolerable rigging of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
“Late yesterday at 10: 10 pm, INEC, in a desperate move to prevent our party and candidate from obtaining necessary evidence as ordered by the court, filed a motion requesting that it be allowed to reconfigure the BVAS machines and wipe out relevant information that our party and candidate require to prosecute our case at the Presidential Election Tribunal. ” This despicable action by INEC to thwart Nigerians’ attempts to seek redress in court is a clear formula for crisis and evidence of the commission’s deliberate intention to undermine our democracy and spark anarchy in the nation.
“Nigerians can recollect how the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, superintended over the manipulation of the
results of the presidential election and hastily declared a winner in spite of widespread outcry and complaint over numerous
evidence of malpractices and violation of several provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 by INEC and its officials,” the national
publicity secretary said. In order to announce and declare only results that were transmitted directly from the polling places to the INEC server/website,
as well as to review the results in the event of disputes and objections as to the accuracy and consistency of the collated result, the INEC chairman bypassed all the steps and procedures
stipulated by the Electoral Act, 2022 for the declaration of results.
Additionally, according to Ologunagba, “Section 64(6) of the Electoral Act clearly states that when there is a
disagreement over a collated result or the outcome of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or returning officer shall use the
following to determine the accuracy of the disputed result:
“The original of the disputed collated result for each
polling unit where the election is in dispute; the smart card reader or other technological device; and the original of the disputed election results.”
“The votes and result of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed, as specified under section 60 (4) of this Act.
“The data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed.”
In addition, Ologunagba pointed out that the Electoral Act of 2022’s Section 65 (1)(c) stated, “S. 65.-(1)
The decision of the returning officer shall be final on any issue arising from or pertaining to-…. (c) declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate.
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“Provided, however, that the commission shall have the authority within seven days to review the declaration and return when the commission determines that the
aforementioned declaration and return was not made voluntarily or was made in violation of the provisions of the law, regulations, and election manual.”
According to the PDP spokesman, “instead of abiding by the law, the INEC chairman brazenly announced and declared results that were not directly transmitted from the polling places to INEC’s server/website while ignoring the objections and complaints raised during the collation in complete disregard of the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The PDP, a law-abiding party, approached the court and obtained an order directing INEC to, among other things, grant our party and candidate unrestricted access to carry out a forensic examination of the
ballot papers, data forms, BVAS/and or card readers, and all other necessary information, material, and evidence to get redress for Nigerians at the Election Tribunal. This was done in spite of the INEC chairman’s provocative act.
He continued, “Seemingly alarmed by the order, INEC hurried to court and filed a petition asking the court to permit it to reconfigure the
BVAS devices with the intention of erasing the information therein.
“In the obnoxious motion, INEC admitted that the ‘BVAS Application stores the Accreditation Data for all voters accredited on the device for the presidential, senatorial districts and
House of Representatives elections’ conducted on the 25th February, 2023,” and that the reconfiguration of the BVAS devices “entails purging the Accreditation Data on the BVAS devices”.
“This INEC action is vexatious, provocative, and only demonstrates the commission’s guilt and impunity for the alleged manipulations and changes made to the results in order to deny our party and its candidate success in the presidential election.
It “further confirms the fact that our party and presidential candidate won the presidential election on February 25, 2023, based on the actual votes submitted at the polling places.” If INEC has nothing to conceal, why did it rush to announce rigged results without consulting the Electoral Act’s provisions or taking into account the disagreements,
objections, or complaints made by parties during the collation process? If the data in the BVAS don’t show proof of fraud and INEC’s involvement in the election, why is it so panicked and desperate to delete them?
He declared that the PDP would continue to pursue the issue in accordance with the law as a party that upholds the law.
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