Three ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have contradicted claims that the 2019 presidential election results were not transmitted to a server. The ad-hoc workers made the claims while testifying at the presidential election tribunal on Monday. Former Nigeria vice president and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar is challenging the election result which INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari the winner. INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku, who polled 11,262,978 votes.
However, Atiku and the PDP contended that based on data obtained from INEC’s server, the true, actual and correct results” showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes. But INEC told the tribunal that it had no server where the election results were transmitted during the February 23 presidential election. INEC’s claim was, however, countered by some of its officials during the election.
Peter Uzioma Obi, who worked as a registration area technician at a ward level in Rivers State during the election, said INEC trained him and others to transmit collated results into the server. INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), challenged his claims saying, “You were not supposed to transmit results because you were not a presiding officer.” But Obi said, “You are wrong sir. INEC trained us to transmit results. I was not a presiding officer. I was not a polling agent. I was a registration area technician appointed by INEC. I was trained by INEC.”
He said he operated at the ward level with the Local Government Technician and the State Technician as his superiors. Fielding questions from APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Obi said the lawyer was not entirely correct to say that it was the duty of the Presiding Officer “to do accreditation, verification authentication, and collation at the Polling Units.” The witness said, “You are not entirely correct sir, because we were told at the training that the Assistant Polling Officer 1, was in charge of accreditation.”
Another witness, who was a presiding officer during the presidential election, Adejuyitan Olalekan, also told the tribunal that he personally transmitted the results collated at his polling unit during the polls. Olalekan was not asked to mention the state or the polling unit where he worked during the polls.
Under cross-examination by Olanipekun the witness, who said he was a lecturer at African Thinkers Community of Inquiry College of Education in Enugu State, said, “I did it myself as the Presiding Officer. I transmitted through the code provided by INEC,” he said. But when asked by INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), he said he did not have the name or the number of the server. Fielding questions from the APC’s lawyer, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), the witness said, “Without the code, you cannot make any transmission of results.”
While being cross-examined by Olanipekun, the witness maintained that all the voters in his polling units voted via card reader as the machine worked perfectly. He also insisted that INEC did not direct presiding officers to allow voters who could not be authenticated by the card reader machine to vote manually with their picture captured.
He said, “No we were not directed to allow people to vote manually. The card reader worked for every voter who came to my polling unit to vote.” The fourth prosecution witness, Adedokun Adeoye, who worked as an Assistant Presiding Officer I during the election, also said he transmitted the results into INEC’s server at the end of the polls.