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Election Tribunal: APC, INEC Against LP’s Request To Interrogate IT Professionals

The Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, filed a request with the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Thursday to question the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). They are specifically seeking information about the information and communication technology experts employed by INEC during the February 25 election. The LP and Obi are contesting the election results, challenging INEC’s declaration that Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress emerged as the winner.

Patrick Ikweto (SAN), the lawyer representing Obi and the LP, presented two separate motions, consisting of 12 questions to be posed to INEC. This was done in support of their petition, which questions the fairness of the election. The petitioners argue that if their interrogatory application is granted, it will strengthen their claims that the election was flawed.

However, Kemi Pinhero (SAN), the counsel for INEC, objected to the motion, citing that it was filed outside the specified timeframe allowed by law. Pinhero contended that bringing the application outside the pre-hearing session deprived the court of jurisdiction to hear it. Akin Olujimi (SAN), the counsel for Tinubu, and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the counsel for the APC, also opposed the request.

The presiding Justice, Haruna Tsammani, reserved the ruling on Obi and the LP’s interrogatory applications and adjourned further hearing on the petition until the following day (Friday).

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, called their first witness who was subpoenaed at the Presidential Election Petition Court on Thursday, despite strong objections from the respondents. The witness, Friday Egwuma, who served as an ad hoc staff for INEC, testified that he was the Presiding Officer at Polling Unit 17 in Aba North, Abia State.

During cross-examination by A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), the counsel for INEC, Egwuma revealed that he encountered technical difficulties when attempting to upload the captured presidential results to the INEC Results Viewing Portal. He claimed that the results could not be electronically transmitted in real-time after capturing them on the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System. Egwuma clarified that this issue was only specific to the presidential results, as the results for the senatorial and House of Representatives elections were successfully transmitted to the portal without any glitches. He also mentioned the availability of an offline mode as an alternative option in such situations.

Before the witness testified, the respondents had objected to the admissibility of his deposition. The court reserved its ruling on the objection until the final judgment.

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