Three ad hoc staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who served as Presiding Officers during the February 25 general election testified at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC). The witnesses, subpoenaed by Abubakar Atiku and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), revealed that only the results of the presidential election were unable to be uploaded to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV).
Led by the petitioner’s counsel, Eyitayo Jegede, the witnesses explained that they successfully used the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine to transmit results for the senatorial and House of Representatives’ elections. However, they encountered difficulties when attempting to use the BVAS for transmitting the presidential election results, leading them to express dissatisfaction with the overall election process.
The three witnesses, Janet Turaki, Christopher Ardo, and Victoria Sani, served as presiding officers in Yobe, Bauchi, and Katsina states, respectively. They unanimously acknowledged that other aspects of the election proceeded smoothly until it was time to upload the presidential results, at which point the BVAS machines failed to work.
During cross-examination, Ms. Turaki explained that voter accreditation and voting went well at her polling unit, but the network connectivity issues arose when attempting to upload the presidential results using the BVAS machine. Consequently, she handed over all relevant documents to her ward collation agent and completed the complaint form provided by INEC for such incidents. She confirmed that she and other party agents present signed the result on form EC8A before taking it to the ward.
Mr. Ardo, under cross-examination, expressed his disappointment with his inability to transmit the presidential election results as required by law during his assignment with INEC. Similarly, Ms. Sani, when questioned, asserted that she fulfilled her duties as a presiding officer to the best of her ability.
The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned proceedings until Tuesday for the continuation of the hearing in the petition. The case involves Atiku and the PDP challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential election. One of the grounds for their petition is INEC’s alleged failure to transmit election results to the IREV portal in real-time, as previously claimed by INEC Chairman Yakubu Mahmood prior to the election.