The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal has denied the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s request for more time to conclude their case. The Tribunal
Chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba, ruled that the tribunal will continue with proceedings till later in the day to enable the petitioners to conclude their case.
Chris Uche, PDP’s lawyer, had asked for more time from the tribunal to conclude their case after the tribunal granted the PDP 10 days to conclude its case which lapsed on Friday. Uche requested for more time so that the tribunal can have time to treat the documents he presented today.
The documents include Expert Report of INEC’s Electoral Information Systems as revealed by Whistle Blowers Website, Downloaded documents from the website, Certificate of Compliance and Executive Summary for the 11 states under review.
The lawyers to President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), however, objected to the admissibility of the documents with a promise to give reasons for their objection in their final address. Garba noted their objections but admitted the documents as exhibits.
Atiku and the PDP are challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The petitioners are asking the tribunal to nullify the victory of Buhari on grounds of alleged Irregularities, substantial non-compliance with the electoral laws, widespread violence amongst others. The petitioners are also asking the tribunal to declare them winner of the election based on the results obtained from INEC central server, which, according to them, revealed they scored majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll.
Though the petitioners had planned to call about 400 witnesses within the 10 days allotted to them to substantiate their claims, they were however able to call 62 witnesses and tendered over 50,000 documents to prove their case of alleged rigging over voting, non-compliance with the electoral guidelines.
The petitioners had commenced their legal fireworks against Buhari’s reelection by calling witnesses from Niger, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Jigawa States amongst others wherein they alleged the electoral malpractices held sway. Other states the petitioners are challenging Buhari’s victory include Borno, Kebbi, Bauchi, Kogi and Nasarawa where the petitioners’ witness attested to intimidation harrasment, threat to agents of Atiku and the PDP during the presidential poll.
Among the 62 witnesses called are a foreign Information, Communication and Technology ICT) expert from Kenya, David Ayu Nyango, and a local data analyst, Joseph Gbenga, to buttress testimonies of their agents at the unit, wards, local government and State levels of the alleged abnormalities during the conduct of the presidential poll, which according to the petitioners’ last witness, Osita Chidoka, is the costliest election ever conducted by Nigeria.
Chidoka, who was the National Collation agent for the petitioners and Head of the PDP situation room told the tribunal that he refused to sign the result of the presidential election because of wrong entries through the manual system. He insisted that results were transmitted into INEC server and that INEC chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu confirmed the existence of a central server in a conversation with the national agents.
Earlier, the foreign ICT expert in his evidence alleged iNEC had four websites from which he was able to generate information used in his analysis. He listed www.factsdontlie.com, whoistool as some of the website he said though does not belong to INEC but the information therein were uploaded by an INEC official who is anonymous. He said if authorized by the INEC chairman he can access the server and provide them with the name and number of the server.
The witness said that the information contained in the report of his analysis were extracts from three of the four websites. The witness confirmed that “Fact.Com was created on March 12, 2019 while the election was held February 23, 2019.” On his part, Joseph Gbenga, the local data analyst said that he analyzed forms EC8A, EC8B and EC8C in 11 focal states of the federation on the instruction of the petitioners.
Among the last set of documents tendered by the petitioners, were INEC 2019 presidential election declaration results, report on all PVC used for the presidential election, record of card reader accreditation, summary of registered voters in polling units were election were cancelled, summary of Collation at the national level and 36 copies of summary of results collation at the states level.
Meanwhile, the tribunal has adjourned further hearing till July 29, for INEC to open its defence.