On Thursday, in the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja, a digital forensic expert named Mr. Hitler Nwala provided a detailed account of how he discovered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) erased the results of the presidential election held on February 25. Mr. Nwala, the 25th witness for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who is contesting the victory of President Bola Tinubu from the All Progressives Congress (APC), testified before a five-member panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani.
The witness alleged that the deleted results were stored in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used during the elections. Atiku and his party claimed that data from the BVAS machines, used for voter accreditation and uploading polling unit results, would prove their allegation of election rigging in favor of Tinubu.
Mr. Nwala summoned as a witness through a subpoena, stated that he conducted forensic analysis on 110 BVAS machines deployed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, for the presidential election. According to him, INEC claimed they wiped off the BVAS information to redeploy the machines for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on March 18.
During cross-examination, INEC’s counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, disputed the witness’s report, arguing that the sample size (110 BVAS devices) was insufficient to establish any irregularities by the Commission. Mahmoud pointed out that 3,263 BVAS devices were deployed nationwide during the presidential election.
President Tinubu and the APC’s legal teams, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, respectively, urged the court to reject the witness’s report, claiming it contained significant errors.
After the witness’s testimony, the petitioners submitted certified copies of INEC’s Forms EC8A from 20 Local Government Areas in Ogun State and polling unit results from several LGAs in Ondo, Jigawa, and Rivers States. INEC and the other respondents objected to the admissibility of these documents, but the court accepted them as exhibits.
The proceedings were adjourned until Friday to allow the petitioners to conclude their case, after which the respondents would present their defense.