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INEC presiding officers Testify under Oath, Say Results were Transmitted Electronically

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No fewer than a dozen people who said they were deployed as electoral officers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 presidential election have admitted under oath that they transmitted results electronically.

A question about whether or not results were forwarded to a central database of the commission has been amongst the top grounds for contesting the presidential election results by Atiku Abubakar and his opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Abubakar was the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 23 elections.

On February 27, the electoral umpire declared Mr Buhari winner of the elections, and issued him a certificate of return for a second four-year term starting May 29.

Mr Abubakar and his PDP challenged the results at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal last month, saying he won the election and was in possession of evidence that would upturn the declared outcome.

Mr Abubakar’s legal team submitted a different result to the tribunal, which showed the former vice-president as the winner of the election. The result showed Mr Abubakar had scored 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, whom they said received 16,741,430 votes.

This contradicted the results declared by INEC, which said Mr Buhari received 15,191,847 votes against Mr Abubakar’s 11,262,978 votes.

Mr Abubakar’s lawyers said the results were released by an INEC whistleblower who had access to the commission’s internal server and other tools throughout the election.

They also provided unique identification information of computers that they said belonged to INEC, which they expected experts from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle to corroborate.

In its initial response to Mr Abubakar’s petition, INEC strongly denied operating a server during the election, saying such activities were not permitted by the electoral law. The commission accused Mr Abubakar of circulating fake results for the purpose of his petition.

Mr Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also sided with the electoral umpire and alleged criminal interception of a public institution’s communication by Mr Abubakar and the PDP.

In a response to INEC’s denial of the server and its purported result, Mr Abubakar’s legal team attached affidavits from 12 persons they said worked for INEC.

The persons, according to the affidavits, said they worked as presiding officers and assistant presiding officers in Borno and Yobe. They were only identified in the documents by their initials, but a source close to Mr Abubakar told PREMIUM TIMES the witnesses will ultimately identify themselves in court.

The witnesses comprise seven presiding officers and five assistant presiding officers. They were six each from Borno and Yobe, and swore they were adequately recruited and trained by the commission ahead of the election.

“We were specifically instructed that the use of the smart card reader for accreditation, verification, authentication, collation
and transmission of results is mandatory and that any election conducted without the use of the smart card reader would be invalid.

“I took part in the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) elections…where I served as the presiding officer (PO) and I ensured the use of the smart card reader for accreditation, verification, authentication, collation and transmission of votes in my polling unit.

“At the end of voting, the information on the smart card reader, the results inclusive were collated by me in the presence of the party agents and other ad-hoc staff of the 1st respondent after which my assistant presiding officer (AP0-1) transmitted the result electronically in my presence to INEC’s server using the smart card reader and the code provided by the commission,” a typical testimony from one of the witnesses read.

The wording of the affidavits was identical. Assistant presiding officers also swore they sent the results to a designated INEC server.

Meanwhile, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) said its observers saw polling officers ‘attempting’ to transmit results electronically in 65 per cent (961 of 1489) of polling units observed on the presidential election day.

The group’s director, Samson Itodo, said the data only captured polling officers who made attempts to transmit results using smart card readers. It could not confirm whether or not the transmissions were successful.

A spokesperson for INEC declined comments to PREMIUM TIMES about the comments of the presiding officers and their assistants.

The officers are usually deployed for elections on ad-hoc basis, and most of them were not the commission’s employees.

An election expert and director at one of the main election observer groups told PREMIUM TIMES some results were transmitted via the smart card readers, but were only designed to aggregate results from across the country.

“There were some polling units whose card readers were used to transmit results on election day for aggregation,” the expert said under anonymity because of his closeness to the commission and also to avoid publicly commenting on a matter already in court.

He suggested that INEC’s outright denial of electronic transmission of results could be because neither the electoral law nor its guidelines made provisions for electronic transmission of results.

“The law and the guidelines allowed only manual transmission in all the stages of the results collation,” the expert said. “That may be why the commission decided to deny using electronic means for its own internal compilation.”

He said only the court could hold INEC responsible for any discrepancy in its internal results and what the commission declared to the public.

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Adeleke Wins As Court Strikes Out Ineligibility Suit

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday struck out a suit seeking nullification of submission of name of Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the recent July 16 election.

The judge struck down the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the case.

The plaintiff in the suit, Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, PDP and Adeleke before the court seeking order to void and set aside the submission of Adeleke’s name to INEC on ground of alleged unlawful action.

The grouse of the plaintiff was that Adeleke’s name was hurriedly submitted by PDP on March 11 as against between March 14 to 18 as contained in the INEC guidelines.

Adeleke’s name having not been submitted within the period fixed by INEC, the plaintiff asked the court to declare the submission, illegal, unlawful, null and void and be set aside.

He claimed that INEC must be bound by its official guidelines and that anything done outside the guidelines is against the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

However, in his judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu struck out the suit on the ground that the said Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman lacked locus standi to have instituted the case.

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Falconets Beat Canada 3-1, Set to Meet Holland in Quarter Final

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Nigeria’s U-20 girls, Falconets, set a World Cup group stage perfect record for themselves after beating Canada 3-1 in Alajuela on Thursday morning to finish with a perfect nine points out of nine in Group C.

Head Coach, Chris Musa, said before the encounter that his girls would seek to win even as a quarter-final ticket was already in the bag, in order to sustain their winning mentality following hard-fought victories over France and Korea Republic.

That was exactly what the Falconets did.
Africa’s best team conceded their first goal of the competition in an accidental manner, following goalkeeper Omini Oyono’s poor management of a backpass from Jumoke Alani that granted Kala Novak a fortuitous goal in less than two minutes.

“It was great for us to come back from that setback, and also conceding first in the tournament. We showed character and spirit, and that would be huge for us going forward in the competition,” Musa said after the match.

Midfield impresario Esther Onyenezide, whose vicious curling shot earned all three points against Korea Republic to send the Falconets into the last eight on Monday morning, scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level. Defender Mia Pante had handled the ball from a Blessing Okpe shot in the box.

The Falconets looked composed and surefooted in the middle with the return of Deborah Abiodun, who sat out the encounter with the Koreans, and Chiamaka Okwuchukwu also played an inspired game after starting for the first time in the tournament. Her firm header from a Blessing Okpe cross in the 15th minute missed narrowly.

Onyenezide shot Nigeria ahead, also from the spot, in the 32nd minute minute, after Simi Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko, as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger, was penalised.

In the added time of first period, Idoko came close to scoring her first goal of the tournament, but her touch from another Imuran inswinger kissed the upright.

In the second half, the Falconets added pace and brilliant use of space to their game, and it was no surprise when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.

Their imperial campaign in the group stage earns the Falconets a quarter-final date with the Netherlands in Alajuela as from 1am on Monday (Nigeria time).

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Supporters Throng Obasanjo’s Residence As Tinubu Visits Former President

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Scores of supporters of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, Wednesday, stormed the residence of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta as the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu visited the former President.

Tinubu arrived at the Penthouse of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in his chopper at about 1:09pm in company of some party leaders.

He was received by Governor Dapo Abiodun, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, his predecessor, Segun Osoba, and other Ogun State government functionaries.

They have all gone into a meeting with the president.

The meeting was believed to be in connection with ambition of Tinubu in the coming elections.

Our correspondent reports that the duo had not been seen together since 2015 when he escorted the then APC candidate, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to Obasanjo’s residence.

He was also at the 78th birthday of the former President held at Abeokuta in March, 2015.

The two of them have since kept their distances as Obasanjo withdrew his support for Buhari and the APC, which he supported to power by tearing his card as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.

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