The Final Report of the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOB) on the recent general election was admitted as evidence by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PREPEC), presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani.
Despite objections from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the report was accepted in the petition filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 presidential election. Meanwhile, INEC failed to present its defense in the petition filed by Mr. Peter Obi challenging Tinubu’s election.
Atiku’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, submitted the EU’s report, which criticized INEC for not ensuring transparent and fair elections. The report highlighted that only 31 percent of the presidential election results were uploaded to the IReV as of the time INEC announced Tinubu as the winner. It revealed shortcomings in the training of INEC’s adhoc staff. Atiku had presented 27 witnesses, including experts and INEC’s adhoc staff, who supported his claims of election manipulation. They testified that the promised electronic transmission of results did not occur as expected.
INEC’s Director of Information Technology, Dr. Lawrence Bayode, testified as the commission’s sole witness, explaining how technical glitches were handled. He stated that the glitches did not affect the actual scores of the candidates and that INEC relied on manual collation of results. Bayode admitted that not all results had been uploaded to the IReV by the time Tinubu was declared the winner. He also confirmed that INEC did not report the glitches to the cloud service provider. Under cross-examination, Bayode acknowledged that the BVAS did not have a built-in mechanism to distinguish between presidential and National Assembly results.
The court ordered Tinubu and the APC to present their defense, while INEC requested an adjournment due to the unavailability of witnesses. Obi’s legal team expressed disappointment with INEC’s actions, suggesting that the electoral body was unprepared to defend the election outcome in court.