INEC staff to testify against Tinubu
Five ad-hoc staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have been okayed to testify as special witnesses in the petition that a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
The INEC ad-hoc staff members who participated in the conduct of the disputed presidential election were subpoenaed to appear before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC.
Atiku, who came second in the presidential contest that held on February 25, had in the joint petition he filed with his party, alleged that the election was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The former Vice President, in his 66-paged petition, accused the electoral Commission of installing a third-party device he said was used to intercept and switch results of the presidential election in favour of the APCand its candidate, Bola Tinubu.
According to Atiku, the said IT Consultant, Mr. Suleiman Farouk, ensured that the device intermediated between the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the IRev Portal, known as Device Management System (DMS).
He told the court that the DMS was the software that allowed INEC’s IT Security Consultant, Mr. Farouk, to remotely control, monitor and filter data that was transmitted from the BVAS devices to the electronic collation system and the IRev platform.
Consequently, at the resumed proceedings in the petition on Wednesday, lead counsel for the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the court that his clients had subpoenaed five INEC ad-hoc staff members that were part of the conduct of the election to appear as witnesses and to also tender sensitive materials in evidence.
He added that out of the five witnesses, three of them were in court.
However, immediately the first subpoenaed ad-hoc staff was called into the courtroom and he mounted the witness box, lead counsel for the INEC, Mr Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, raised an objection.
INEC’s lawyer, Mahmood, SAN, told the court that he was only served with statements of the witnesses, a few minutes before the proceedings commenced, insisting that he would need time to go through the documents to be able to effectively cross-examine the witnesses.
Both Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, who appeared for President Tinubu, as well as counsel for the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, aligned themselves with the position of the INEC.
The respondents maintained that they would need time to study the statements of the witnesses that were served on them by the petitioners.
Even though Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel initially opted for a 30-minute stand down to allow the respondents to study the statements, however, it subsequently deferred further proceedings in the matter till Thursday to enable INEC’s counsel to conduct his internal enquiry.