The final report of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) on the conduct of the 25 February presidential poll was admitted as evidence by the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja. The court is currently hearing the case challenging the outcome of the election. Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), filed the case to contest President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the election. The EU report, which criticized INEC’s handling of the disputed election, was accepted as an exhibit in Atiku’s case.
President Tinubu, from the All Progressives Congress (APC), emerged as the winner of the election, defeating Atiku, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and 15 other candidates. Both opposition candidates lodged separate petitions at the court, citing electoral malpractices and other issues. The EU report had previously been brought to court by Atiku’s legal team, highlighting shortcomings in the 2023 general elections, contrary to INEC’s promise of transparent and credible polls. President Tinubu’s spokesperson dismissed the report, rejecting any suggestion of election fraud.
Atiku and Mr. Obi concluded their cases on 23 June, and the court adjourned for INEC, APC, and President Tinubu to present their defence. During the proceedings, INEC called its only witness, an IT expert named Lawrence Bayode, who testified that the presidential election complied substantially with the electoral act. Atiku’s lawyer attempted to introduce a copy of the EU Observers report as evidence, which faced objections from Mr. Tinubu’s lawyer and APC’s lead counsel. The court conditionally admitted the report as an exhibit.
Mr. Bayode read excerpts from the report, including the EU’s assessment of INEC’s conduct, which highlighted deficiencies in training polling staff and the upload of correct results on the IReV system. Mr. Bayode confirmed that not all presidential poll results were uploaded to the IReV portal. Atiku alleged in his petition that INEC employed an IT consultant, Suleiman Farouk, who facilitated the use of the Device Management System (DMS) to control and filter data transmitted from BVAS devices to the IReV platform. This allegation claims that the DMS was used to intercept and manipulate results before their release.
After Mr. Uche’s cross-examination, Mr. Bayode was discharged from the witness box, and INEC’s defence concluded.