Election: Top INEC’s official moves to testify against Obi, Atiku as PEPC reconvenes Monday

As the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) reconvenes on Monday (July 3), the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lined up witnesses to defend the election victory of President Bola Tinubu and one of them is Dr. Lawrence Bayode, Deputy Director in the ICT Department of the electoral umpire.

The petitioners, including the Labour Party and Peter Obi as well as Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar, had concluded tendering of evidence and presentation of witnesses last Friday, insisting among other prayers, that INEC’s failure to upload scanned polling unit results in real-time contradicts the Electoral Act 2022 and amounts to electoral fraud.

In their separate petitions, they want the PEPC to nullify Tinubu’s election while declaring them winners of the 2023 presidential election.

Obi had presented before the court cloud engineering and cyber security experts, including a Professor of Mathematics to explain his team’s findings on the INEC Results Viewing Portal, IREV, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, machines, and deflate INEC’s claim that “technical glitches” prevented transmission of the presidential results to the IReV portal.

Atiku also presented a forensic expert, among other witnesses.

In Bayode’s witness statement on oath, he said during the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections, INEC’s technical team did everything to restore the (IREV) application to functionality, including the creation and deployment of patches and updates to resolve the glitches that made the BVAS machine not to upload results in real-time from the polling units.

He contended that the downtime encountered on the IREV application lasted for 4 hours and 50 minutes until it was resolved and the first presidential result was “successfully” uploaded at 8:55 pm on the 25th of February, 2023.

“The investigation by the INEC experts shows that the system was returning error codes specifically HTTP 500 error.

“HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) 500 error is a coding message which indicates that a computer or server has encountered an unexpected error that has prevented it from carrying out or fulfilling a specific request or executing a command,” he said in his witness statement.

Bayode further explained that the upload of data or images captured and automatically stored on the BVAS machine by presiding officers requires data service of mobile network operators.

“Where there is no data service or where the service is poor, the BVAS device is designed to work offline. The upload of data will occur when data service is available,” Bayode added, maintaining that offline transmission using BVAS did not affect the integrity of upload of the election result to the e-transmission and IREV portal.

NEWS FLASH reports that INEC has five days to call its witnesses to pave the way for the legal team of Tinubu and the All Progressive Congress to do the same.

In line with the PEPC directive, parties must have concluded presentation of their evidence by July while parties will adopt their final addresses in August.

Judgment on the petitions will come in September.