INEC Disowns A’Ibom REC, Mike Igini

INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu has ended the speculation about the procedure adopted in transmitting results of the last general elections.

In a video recording played on Tuesday before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), Yakubu explained that INEC jettisoned its plan to transmit elections results electronically owing to two other challenges, beside the legal constraint.

Yakubu said before the elections, INEC officials met with telecommunication experts drawn from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the telecoms service providers during which two main challenges were identified.

The first, he noted, was the inadequacy of telecommunication infrastructure across the country.

The second, Yakubu said, was that of cyber insecurity which, he added, had marred such experiments (electronic transmission of election results) in some countries.

Yakubu said: “On the issue of transmission of results electronically, I recall that we had some discussions with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). And, through the NCC, we had meetings with the telecoms service providers.

“And we have identified blind spots in Nigeria (areas without telecommunication coverage). Beside the issue of blind spot, we also have discussions with the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT). We have not concluded our discussion with the Nigerian Communications Satellite in that respect.

“There are two issues. The first one, communication. With respect to the blind spots; how do you communicate?

“Secondly, the percentage of the country that is covered by 2G, let alone 3G or 4G network, and there are no 5, in Nigeria is very small.”

He said in view of the inadequacy in the available telecommunication infrastructure, the commission concluded that it was impossible to adopt the electronic method of election transmission, because the plan was not only to send figures, but, in addition, pictures of forms containing details of the election results.

Yakubu added that the commission concluded that way “because sending figures is different from sending images. So, we have challenge in the area of communication”.

According to the INEC Chairman, the second problem was security, particularly cyber security.

He cited examples of countries, such as Kenya and others, that tried electronic transmission of results but experienced security challenges.

The recording was of an interview session with the INEC chairman, aired by a private television station on February 6, 2019, and in which he ruled out the possibility of INEC transmitting results electronically.

Yesterday’s proceedings were a continuation of Monday’s where a petitioners’ witness, Segun Showunmi, tendered 48 compact discs (CDs) two of which showed where Yakubu and an INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, spoke about plans to deploy technology in the transmission of the results of the last elections.

Showunmi, who, on Monday swiftly identified Yakubu, Igini and the official of the television station, who anchored the interviews from the DVDs he bought, stunned all yesterday when he had a difficulty identifying the same people in the DVD brought by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN).

The DVD tendered by Izinyon was played at the resumption of the tribunal’s proceedings on Tuesday.

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The tribunal had, on Monday adjourned till yesterday owing to the refusal by the lawyer to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, Chris Uche, to allow Izonyo play his DVD in the equipment the petitioners brought, and with which they played their videos.

After the video of the interview granted by Yakubu on February 6, 2019 was played with the equipment brought by Izinyon, Showunmi, who resumed his testimony, said he could not identify the INEC Chairman and his interviewer in the video.

After the single DVD was played, Izinyon tendered it along with a certificate of compliance, which were both admitted by the tribunal, despite the petitioners’ lawyer’s objection.

Tribunal Chairman Justice Mohammed Garba advised Uche to include the reason for his objection in his final written address, as agreed by parties at the pre-hearing session.

Atiku and the PDP are, by their petition, challenging the outcome of the last presidential election won by President Buhari of the APC.

The petitioners are claiming, in their petition, to have won the election, going by results they claimed to have got from a purported INEC server into which they argued the results were electronically transmitted.

At the conclusion of Showunmi’s testimony, the petitioners called nine other witnesses, who all made allegations malpractices in the last presidential election.

The witnesses, who served as PDP agents in Nasarawa State, made series of claims that the election was manipulated, even in areas where the PDP won. But they failed, under cross examination, to sustain their claim of manipulation against agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Rikita Ali, who said he served as PDP Ward Collation Agent in Lafia Local Government, Nasarawa State, claimed in his written statement that an INEC official was caught with $10,000.

Ali said he witnessed the incident, which happened at Lafia Collation Centre, where he was present.

The witnesses, who said he had no evidence of the police report of the incident, said the INEC official is still alive, but that could not say if the official has been arrested or prosecuted.

Another witness, Mohammed Hayatu, who said he retired as a Customs official, claimed,in his written statement, that Atiku is a Nigerian by birth and was qualified to vote and be voted for.

Under cross examination, Hayatu, who claimed Atiku was older than him by 20 years, confessed that all he said about Atiku were what his (Hayatu’s) late father told him about Atiku and his family.

Hayatu said he also learnt that part of Adamawa Province was part of Northern Cameroon, until the plebiscite of 1961, which brought it back to Nigeria.

The witness said Jadda, where Atiku was born was never part of Cameroon.

Earlier, another petitioners’ witness, Magdiel Samaki, who said he was a Nigerian Ambassador to Romania, said he could not recall history relating to the plebiscite conducted in Northern Cameroon in 1961.

Under cross-examination, Samaki was asked to read part of his written statement, where he said he first met Atiku’s mother in 1965 and recalled Atiku’s early years.

When reminded that he claimed that his was born in 1946 and could not have witnessed Atiku’s early years, the witness said he read about it and was also told.

The witness said: “To the best of my knowledge and what I know, Jadda was in Northern Nigeria, in Adamawa Province, even before 1946.

On whether he is aware that prior to 1919, Cameroon was administered by Germany, the witness said he was not born then.

Samaki said he did not know when the First World War ended.

The petitioners are expected to call more witnesses at the resumption of the tribunal’s sitting today.

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