From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president Atiku on Friday presented three Presiding Officers (PO) who testified that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System(BVAS) machine failed to transmit the scanned result sheet of the February 25 presidential election.
The witness who participated in the 2023 general election as adhoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), were drawn from Kogi, Niger and Edo States respectively.
Regardless of the objections raised against their competence to testify by counsel to INEC, President Tinubu, Kashim Shetimma and the All Progressives Congress(APC), the witnesses gave their evidence-in- chief before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
The three adhoc INEC Presiding Officers who were subpoenaed witnesses took their turns in the witness box where they lamented the inability of the BVAS machines to transmit the presidential results from their various polling units.
They were led in evidence-in-chief by Chief Chris Uche (SAN), leading the petitioners legal team at the PEPC.
In her testimony, Grace Ajagbonna, a resident of Egbe, Yagba West LGA, Kogi State, and an ex-National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, told the court that although the election went smoothly and peaceful, she was however not happy because the BVAS machine failed to transmit the result after collation.
Before her testimony, a senior lawyer in the legal team of the President and a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, stood up to restate his objection with regards to the subpoenaed witnesses being presented by the PDP.
In similar fashion, lead counsel to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, as well as INEC lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, all raised objections, asking the court not to take the witnesses’ testimonies.
In his response, Uche urged the court to dismiss the objections in its entirety.
In a short ruling, Chairman of the PEPC, Justice Haruna Tsammani said “Ruling on the objection will be delivered along with the judgment.”
After that, Grace adopted her witness statement on oath, saying she was engaged by INEC to work as an ad-hoc presiding officer during the 2023 election.
She also presented the letter of acknowledgement from INEC wherein she was deployed to serve as an ad-hoc staff.
Mahmoud asked her if she played her role well and if the electoral process was successful.
She responded in the affirmative but said when she tried sending the National Assembly and Presidential election scanned results, the latter failed to transmit.
“I tried it Continuously. I was repeating it one after the other and it was not going,” the witness said.
She was asked if she was trained on the offline operations of the BVAS.
The witness said she does not remember but was only taught by INEC to use the BVAS to scan results, transmit and then proceed to the collation centre.
She went on to tell the court that she was unhappy when the BVAS machine could not send the presidential results sheets at the polling unit.
“My lord to be sincere, I am not happy that I was unable to transmit the (presidential) election results,” the witness said.
Tinubu’s lawyer, Yusuf Ali SAN, asked her whether she mentioned the name of her training officer.
The witness responded in the negative.
She was told by Ali that the acknowledgement letter she got from INEC did not automatically make her an ad-hoc staff member.
But the witness replied, saying she also has an appointment letter from INEC.
Under cross examination by APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the witness said after the conclusion of her assignment on election day, she wrote a report.
After her, another INEC ad-hoc presiding officer, Abidemi Joseph, announced her appearance saying she served in Niger State.
The same questions asked to the first witness were repeated, of which she insisted the election results could not be transmitted by the BVAS.
Edosa Obosa, an ex-NYSC corps member and presiding officer in Edo State came up to say she tried to upload the scanned result using a BVAS machine but it failed.
But the witnesses all admitted that they submitted the original result sheet, signed by party agents to the Ward collation centre.
The witness was subsequently discharged from the testimony dock and the PDP petition was adjourned to Saturday.
On Thursday proceedings, the petitioners called two ad-hoc staff who stated the BVAS could not transmit the Presidential election result sheet.
Atiku is contesting the 2023 presidential election results declared in favor of Tinubu