Presidential Poll: INEC gets July 29 to open defence, as Atiku, PDP close case

 
Fri Jul 19th, 2019 - Abuja (FCT)
 

…62 out of 400 billed witnesses appear
…As Kenyan ICT Expert testifies, insists INEC server exists By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Friday, gave the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, July 29 to open its defence in the petition challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election.

Atiku and Buhari

The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-member panel gave the electoral body the nod to commence its defence, shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, closed their case after they produced their last witness.

The petitioners who are seeking to void President Buhari’s re-election on the premise that he did not secure the majority of valid votes cast, called a total of 62 witnesses within the 10 days that was allocated to them, even as they tendered result sheets from all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

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The tribunal had in a pre-hearing report that was adopted by all the parties, given all the Respondents to the petition- INEC, President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, six days each to present their defence.

Atiku and PDP had notified the tribunal of their intention to call a total of 400 witnesses.

However, shortly after the last witness was discharged on Friday, counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, announced decision of his clients to close their case.

“Having called witnesses and having tendered documents, we most humbly, under paragraph 46(5) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, apply to close the case of the petitioners. Today being our last day”, he added.

The petitioners told the tribunal that the last witness it presented, Chief Osita Chidoka, who was former Aviation Minster and the national collation agent of the PDP for the presidential election, was their star witness.

Chidoka who was head of PDP’s Situation Room, mounted the witness box after the tribunal admitted documents that INEC was subpoenaed to produce with respect to the election results.

The documents included presidential result sheets from Zamfara State.

According to Uche, the polling unit results which are contained in Form EC8A, were 3, 721 in number, the Ward results in Form EC8B were 166, while the LG results in Form EC8C were 14.

All the respondents said they were opposed to the admissibility of the documents and would adduce reasons in their final written addresses.

The tribunal admitted the documents in evidence and marked them as exhibits PZF-1001 to 4721, PZF-4722 to 4887 and PZF-4888 to 4901, respectively.

Thereafter, the petitioners tendered the second set of documents that comprised of Form EC8D (Summary of collation of results from the 36 states), One Form EC8D(A) (Summary of collation at national level), 36 copies of Form EC40G (2) (Summary of registered voters of polling units where election did not hold or cancelled.

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Other documents that were tendered by the petitioners were: One Form EC40G (3) (Summary of registered voters of polling units where election did not hold or cancelled), Report of Card Reader Accreditation for the 2019 election (One report with 4, 128 pages), Report on all PVCs under in 2019 elections from Card Readers, three receipts with respect to the documents, INEC 2019 presidential election declaration result, as well as the Certificate of Compliance with respect to result for the presidential election that was published on INEC’s website.

INEC said it was only opposed to the result that was allegedly obtained from its website and the Certificate, while both President Buhari and APC said they were opposed to all the tendered documents and would give reasons in their addresses.

All the documents were subsequently admitted and marked as exhibits P-129 to 174.

When he mounted the witness box, Chidoka adopted three statements he made on oath on March 18, April 15, 18 and 26, as his Evidence-In-Chief before the tribunal.

The PW-62 who told the tribunal that he was born in 1971, said he was aware that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 in Jedda, Adamawa State by Nigerian parents, and therefore a Nigerian by birth.

Asked under cross-examination if it was biologically possible for him to be in a position to know when Atiku was born, he said: “I am also aware that Nigeria got its independence in 1960”.

Asked if he was there when results of the presidential election were transmitted to the server, Chidoka replied in the negative. I was not there, but I was aware that the results were transmitted”.

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“Have you ever seen the server?”, INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman, SAN, queried him.

He said: “I have not seen the server, but INEC consistently told us of the server and during the collation, INEC Chairman confirmed the existence of the server”.

The PW-62 said he was there when results were collated by INEC, saying it was done manually.

He said he was not able to convince he was at the Situation Room on the election day.

Asked if he visited Yobe on the election day, he said: “I have been to Yobe State severally, but on election day I was in the Situation Room to receive reports from all parts of the country.

He said he was in direct contact with 199, 000 polling agents the PDP deployed for the election, saying they gave him reports.

He insisted that the Smart Card Readers transmitted results electronically into the server.

He said the results were also imputed from the Form EC8A directly into the server, in addition to manually taking them from the Wards for collation.

Asked to give particulars of the server, Chidoka said: “My lords I am not INEC official. We referred to the score and numbers the whistle-blower posted on the website. But I don’t have the details and number here”.

When he was asked to read Paragraph 22 of the Manual for the presidential election, which stipulated procedures to be followed, which did not include electronic transmission of results, the witness said: “It is not there, but INEC Chairman made it emphatically clear to us in several meetings that he would treat the election as if the amended Electoral Act was assented to.

“This is also to remind you that the Card Reader was not mentioned in that Manual, but it was used for the election”.

In his statement, Chidoka alleged that the election was characterised by sundry irregularities he said included wrong entry of results, especially in 11 states.

Asked if he ever listened to Buhari’s broadcasts during the military era, he said: “Are you referring to the broadcast announcing the coup of a democratically elected government.

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“I remember that I was in boarding school in 1984. The only speech I remember was the coup of 1983”.

Asked if he was aware of anyone that was prosecuted for engaging in any of the electoral fraud he alleged, the witness said: “The people that are supposed to charge them ate the ones that perpetrated the violence. I am not aware that any one of them was charged to court”.

Asked if the reason he appeared as witness was because he was displeased with the outcome of the election, Chidoka said: “I am not happy that we lost election that was not properly conducted.

“In 2015 when we lost I encouraged the President to hand over”.

He said the INEC Chairman had at the collation center, admitted that it was “immoral” for the results to be computed with calculators after about N27billion was expended on technology.

He alleged that the 2019 general elections was the costliest, having gulped about N244bn.

Under further cross-examination, Chidoka, insisted there was no budgetary provision for the Trader-Moni program of the Federal Government.

He described the program as an extra-budgetary spending he said was protested against by the National Assembly.

Earlier, an Information Communication Technology, ICT, expert from Kenya, Mr. David Njorga, maintained that INEC transmitted results of the presidential election to a central server.

Njorga, who was subpoenaed to appear as a witness, said he conducted analysis and findings on result of the election as was electronically transmitted to the server.

He said results from the server was directly copied to a website he gave as www.factsdontlieng.com, which he said was created by an official of INEC that acted as a Whistle-blower.

The Kenyan who testified as the PW-59, tendered a copy of the subpoena that was issued for him to appear before the tribunal.

While INEC’s lawyer, Usman, SAN, and that of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said they were not opposed to admissibility of the subpoena, however, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, challenged it.

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Olanipekun said his client would give his reasons in his final written address.

The document was admitted and marked as exhibit P-91.

Under Cross-Examination, Njorga, who was described as an “Expert Witness”, admitted that he was not in Nigeria when the presidential election took place.

He said confirmation from a global ICT tool, WHOIS.com, revealed that the website that contained data from the sever, began to function on March 12 when the domain name was registered.

Asked if the essence of the website was to ensure that people had access to election results as they were being transmitted, the witness said: “If you look at information explicitly put on the website by the author who is an INEC official, those were data from the server.

“The INEC official is anonymous. It is a whistle-blower”.

Asked if the whistle-blower could be a robot, he said: “My lords robots do not create websites”, saying it was international best practice to shield identity of the INEC official.

The witness acknowledged that the website from which he conducted his analysis does not belong to INEC.

“It does not belong to INEC but the data it contained were from INEC’s servers. I have never worked for the INEC before”, he added.

He said he used scientific methods to trace the source of the data.

Asked if he was aware that the IP address has been used by many corporate organizations all over the world, he said it was true.

Asked why he did not attach his certificates to his statement on oath, the witness said: “My lords I am a professional. I have the certificates with me, if you like I can show it”.

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Continuing, the witness told the tribunal that INEC managed four websites, saying it was not correct that none of them contained the data he analysed.

He said exhibit A5 contained extract from all the websites.

Asked if he was aware that the Presidential Result Sheet that had all the results that were announced by INEC, was opened on March 24, the witness said he was not sure.

Asked if he was aware that one Mr. Dinita created the INEC App, the witness said he does not know.

Under further cross-examination, the witness said if granted the access, he could decrypt every data in INEC’s server.

When he was handed one of the exhibits he claimed contained some printouts from the server, the witness said he was not authorised to decrypt them.

“Technically, I can, but I am not authorised to reveal this data”, saying only the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, could grant him access to decrypt data in the server.

“I will decrypt the data and it will confirm that the information on the website where from the direct source”.

Insisting that he linked the website to the server, the witness said: “I am well experienced in information/Data Sciences and I use scientific methods which any expert can confirm”.

He said it was possible for someone to use the same scientific methods he used to gain access to the server, to tamper with its contents.

He said contents of the server could be changed through the same method.

The witness however refused to disclose the name of who engaged and paid him to undertake the assignment.

“My lords I was not paid for this job, only my logistics were paid for”.

Asked if it was not important to state in his expert report before the tribunal, who engaged him and the scope of his assignment, the witness said: “That is true, but as an expert who belongs to various bodies of knowledge, the method I used was what is approved”.

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Meanwhile, shortly after the witness was discharged, the petitioners, tendered more result sheets from Kano State.

1,266 results contained in Forms EC8A, were admitted in evidence as exhibits PKN5,894 to PKN7,159, those in Forms EC8B, 87 of them, were marked as exhibits PKN5,807 to PKN 5,993, while 38 receipts issued for their certification, was marked as exhibits 7,160 to 7,196.

In his testimony, the PW-60, Joseph Gbenga, said he was also subpoenaed to appear before the tribunal.

Identifying himself as a Data Analyst, the witness, said he analysed election results from 11 states of the federation, stressing that Zamfara State was not one of them.

He said the analysis was based on pink copies of Forms EC8 series that were made available to him.

Asked of he was aware that the PDP lost in the 11 states he analysed, the witness said: “I did my professional assessment on data that was given to me. If I was to take more of the parties, I will be biased. I needed to be as professional and I could”.

He said he was aware that hacking is a universal phenomenon, adding that though he had in the past, carried out assignments for organisations that included the World Health Organization, WHO, the witness said he is currently undergoing his certification program.

Asked if he was aware that the petitioners had in their pleadings, conceded defeat in eight states, including Katsina state, the witness said: “I am not aware, I worked on documents made available to me”.

The PW-61, Captain Joe Adaga, retd, alleged that election did not hold in most places in Kogi State, including Dekina and Olamaboro Local Government Areas.

He alleged that violence ensued immediately voting commenced, adding that he personally visited four polling units on the election day.

He told the tribunal that Kogi State does not have less than 2,300 polling units, as well as additional voting points.

Capt. Adaga, retd, said he visited the polling units after he received distress calls that violence was been perpetrated there.

Under further cross-examination, the witness told the tribunal that he joined the Armed Forces as a Cadet in 1978 and was discharged in 1988.

The PW-61 who said he was a Lieutenant when Buhari was a Major General, saying he was aware that Buhari addressed the nation in English when he was the Military Head of State.

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He told the tribunal that he passed through short service at the Nigerian Defence Academy, where he said examinations were done in English language.

Capt. Adaga, retd, claimed that he did not gain anything educationally from the NDA as the training was not as deep as it is presently.

He said he was aware that every office wrote exam before they were promoted.

He said he was aware that President Buhari served as Minister of Petroleum before he became the Head of State.

On the presidential election, the witness said he refused to collect it sign the result sheet “because I told them that it was not the true position of the presidential election in Kogi State that day”.

Vanguard

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source: Vanguard