Presidential poll: Atiku, PDP close case against Buhari’s election after calling 62 witnesses

THE Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 presidential election,  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his party, on Friday, closed their case in their petition challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Atiku and his party are challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

The petitioners are asking the tribunal to nullify the victory of Buhari on grounds of alleged irregularities, substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, widespread violence amongst others.

The petitioners are also asking the tribunal to declare them winner of the election based on the results obtained from INEC’s central server, which according to them, revealed they scored majority of the lawful votes cast at the poll.

Though the petitioners had planned to call about 400 witnesses within the 10 days allotted to them to substantiate their claims, they were however able to call 62 witnesses and tendered over 50, 000 documents to prove their case of alleged rigging over-voting and non compliance with the electoral guidelines.

The 62 witnesses called include a foreign Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) expert from Kenya, David Ayu Nyango, and a local data analyst, Joseph Gbenga to buttress testimonies of their agents at the unit, wards, local government and state levels of the alleged abnormalities during the conduct of the presidential poll, which according to the petitioners’ last witness, Osita Chidoka is the costliest election ever conducted in the country.

Chidoka, who was the National collation agent for the petitioners and Head of the PDP situation room, told the tribunal that he refused to sign the result of the presidential election because of wrong entries through the manual system.

He insisted that results were transmitted into INEC server and that INEC’s chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, confirmed the existence of a central server in a conversation with the national agents.

Earlier, the foreign ICT expert, in his evidence, alleged that iNEC had four websites from which he was able to generate information used in his analysis in his report to the petitioners.

He listed www.factsdontlie.com; whoistool as some of the websites he said, though does not belong to INEC but the information therein were uploaded by an INEC official who is anonymous.

He said if authorised by the INEC chairman, he can access the server and provide them with the name and number of the server.

The witness said that the information contained in the report of his analysis were  extracts from three of the four websites.

The witness confirmed that “Fact.Com was created on  March 12,  2019 while the election was held February 23, 2019.”

On his part, Joseph Gbenga, the local data analyst said that he analysed forms EC8A, EC8B and EC8C in 11 focal states of the federation on the instruction of the petitioners.

Among the last set of documents tendered by the petitioners, were INEC 2019 presidential election declaration results, report on all PVC used for the presidential election, record of card reader accreditation, summary of registered voters in polling units where election were cancelled, summary of Collation at the national level and 36 copies of summary of results collation at the states level.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has adjourned further hearing till July 29, 2019 for INEC to open its defence.

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