INEC deleted results on all BVAS we inspected – Atiku’s witness tells Elections Tribunal
Mr Hitler Nwala, a witness of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has told the Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC) that results on all the 110 BVAS machines he inspected were deleted.
Nwala, a subpoenaed witness, made the assertion on Thursday in Abuja while giving evidence as an expert witness for the petitioners in their petition challenging the outcome of the Feb. 25 presidential election.
The witness who was led in evidence by the petitioner’s lead counsel, Mr Chris Uche, SAN, said that the machines inspected were only those from the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).
He also told the court that he was a Digital Forensic Analyst and that he didn’t know at what point the results were deleted on machines.
Under cross-examination by counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness said that he attached a standard device used for such an exercise to the machine to arrive at the conclusion.
When asked if he had the authority of the commission to attach an external device to the BVAS machine, the witness answered in the affirmative.
Mahmoud further asked the witness if he was aware that inspecting only 110 machines out of 3,163 that were deployed in the FCT amounted to only 3.4 per cent of the total number of BVAS deployed in the FCT and 0.06 per cent of BVAS deployed nationwide.
To this, the witness told the court that he only compiled the report and didn’t take out time to calculate the percentages.
The INEC counsel attempted to give a BVAS machine to the witness to check if it was deleted as he had said in his report.
The witness, however, said that it would be against the ethics of his profession to collect the BVAS machine in open court to check it.
“It is professionally wrong to access a device that will be used as evidence in a court of competent jurisdiction because it will temper with the evidence.
“We cannot access the device directly, what we do is to extract the evidence and take it for analysis.”
Moreover, the witness told the court that since all the devices had the same model and looked the same on the outside, he couldn’t tell if it was one of the ones he inspected by merely looking at it.
For his part, counsel to the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN told the witness that neither he nor any of his team members signed the six-volume forensic report.
The witness, however, insisted that he signed the report as well as the certificate of compliance.
On his part, counsel to President Bola Tinubu, Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN confronted the witness with a portion of his report where he said that from his inspection of the machines, “nothing was intrinsically wrong with them”.
“Were you in Abuja on the day of the presidential election?
“If you were not in Abuja, how then can you know that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the machines on the day of the election?”
The witness said that he was not in Abuja and so he couldn’t have known if something went wrong with the machines on the day of the election.
After the witness was discharged, the petitioners went further to tender Forms EC8A series from 20 local government areas of Ogun, 17 local government areas of Ondo, 27 local government areas of Jigawa, and 20 local government areas of Rivers.
The Chairman of the court, Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned the hearing of the petition until Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that going by the pre-hearing report; Atiku and the PDP are expected to close their case on Friday.
NAN reports that they had asked for three weeks to present their case which elapsed on Tuesday but because they had lost three days, one being the June 12 Democracy Day Public Holiday, the court extended their time by three days. (NAN)