Peter Obi seeks presidential election court’s approval to interrogate INEC ICT officials

*INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, LP presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, yesterday, urged the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make its ICT officials available for interrogation by his team of lawyers and experts.

Obi sought to interrogate INEC’s ICT officials regarding the use of the internet in the conduct of the 25 February presidential election.

Obi is challenging the emergence of President Bola Tinubu as winner of the poll.

He is alleging manipulation of the electoral process by INEC in favour of Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He alleged fraud and non-compliance with statutory provisions.

Earlier yesterday, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar, who is similarly challenging Tinubu’s victory in the election, got two of INEC’s ad hoc electoral officers to testify for him in court.

INEC’s presiding officer, who served in the presidential election, spoke on the inability to upload results in real-time.

The witness who was subpoenaed to appear by the PDP presidential candidate told the court that the presidential election results “refused” to be transmitted with the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS).

He however added that he was able to successfully transmit the results of the senatorial and house of representatives elections which were held on the same day.

Under cross-examination by lawyers for Tinubu and the APC, the witness admitted that there was no issue in his polling unit and that he was happy with the exercise.

Responding to further questioning, the witness also confirmed that the LP won the election in his polling unit.

The testimony of the witness was delayed on Wednesday after the respondents raised objections on the ground that their statements were not front-loaded, leading to a heated argument between the petitioner’s counsel and the respondents’ counsel.

When it was turn of Obi’s case at the court yesterday, his lawyer, Mr. Patrick Ikweto, sought to know the quality of the ICT experts and professionals who superintended the presidential election.

In two requests, Ikweto urged the court to order the electoral commission to supply him with the names and other details of its ICT professionals that deployed electronic devices for the conduct of the election.

Ikweto formulated 12 questions to be forwarded to INEC.

According to Obi’s legal team, if the court grants their request, it would enable them to ask relevant questions and elicit responses that would aid their suit.

But, INEC’s lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, opposed Obi’s applications to subject electoral officials to interrogation.

Pinheiro argued that the requests were incompetent.

He contended that Obi’s requests ought to have come during the court’s prehearing session.

The court had held its prehearing sessions for two weeks when it streamlined the procedures for the trial of the substantive petition.

Pinheiro further contended that the court lacked the jurisdiction to grant Obi’s applications.

Tinubu’s lawyer, Mr. Akin Olujimi and APC counterpart, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, aligned with INEC in opposing Obi’s requests.

The lawyers argued that the applications were incompetent, urging the court to dismiss them.

After taking the lawyers arguments, the five-member panel of the court, led by Haruna Tsammani, reserved ruling on the requests.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned further hearing of the suit until Friday (today).

Premium Times/TheCable reports


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