INEC closes defence in Obi/LP petition, tenders documents

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By Francis Ugwu

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has opened and closed its defence in the petition by Peter Obi and the Labour Party (LP) before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).

INEC’s lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, announced the closure of the first respondent’s case after the conclusion of the testimony of its sole witness, Dr Lawrence Bayode, a Deputy Director in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department of INEC.

Before calling on its witness, INEC tendered some documents which were admitted and marked as exhibits.

Led by Mahmood, the witness told the court that he worked for INEC for 24 years.

Under cross-examination by Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, counsel for the petitioners, the witness told the court that the testing of the software application for the election was carried out on Feb 4.

He added that there was a report on the testing but it was not with him in the court.

The petitioners, however, tendered the E- transmission saver Web and compliance form through the witness which was admitted and marked as evidence.

The witness told the court that the pre-production test was carried out before the election.

When asked if the hard copy of the results would be different from the ones in the IreV, he said no.

He, however, added that anything could happen when sending the results from form EC8A to the IreV.

He admitted that performance, functionality and vulnerability tests were carried out before the election.

The witness agreed with Ikwueto that the report of the e-Transmission application identifies remediation to be undertaken to resolve the high vulnerability identified in the report.

The witness said he does not know INEC ‘s web address where its materials are published.

In his cross-examination, Wole Olanipekun, SAN counsel for Tinubu and Shettima asked if the foundation and authenticity of any election by INEC are rooted in forms EC8A and EC8E, to which the witness replied, yes.

The witness added that blurred documents downloaded from INEC IreV would not affect the physical results in form EC8A because the image is of no relevance.

He said the election ended with the recording, snapping and sending to INEC ‘s IreV.

Answering questions from APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the witness said the physical results are used for computing the election final results and that the glitches that occurred on the day of the election did not affect the collation of the results.

He added that if what was downloaded from the IreV are not clear the physical results could also be obtained.

He told the court further that ECOWAS monitored the election but he does not have their report.

The witness stated that the cloud trial log account of INEC can be obtained from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

He added that this shows the patches that were deployed on E- transmission applications on AWS to fix the glitches that were encountered on election day.

After the testimony of the sole witness, Mahmoud told the court that INEC’s defence in the Obi and Labour Party petition is closed.

Olanipekun later told the court that Tinubu and Shetimma, who are listed as second and third respondents in the petition will tomorrow open their defence.

The five-member panel presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned until tomorrow for Tinubu and Shettima to open their defence.

Obi and his Labour Party (LP) are petitioners in the petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 challenging the election which brought President Bola Tinubu into power.

Respondents are Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress (APC.)

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