Digital Forensic Expert Reveals INEC’s Deletion of Presidential Election Results from BVAS Machines
Abuja, June 22, 2023 – A digital forensic expert, Mr. Hitler Nwala, testified before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) today, shedding light on how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allegedly wiped off the results of the presidential election that took place on February 25. Mr. Nwala, the 25th witness presented by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), revealed his findings during the proceedings challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Taking the stand before the five-member panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, the witness claimed that the deleted results were stored in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used in the election. Atiku and the PDP insisted that the data from the BVAS machines, responsible for voter accreditation and polling unit result upload, would substantiate their allegations of election rigging in favor of Tinubu.
Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the lead counsel for the petitioners, guided Mr. Nwala’s testimony, emphasizing that he had been summoned as a witness through a subpoena.
The forensic expert informed the court that he specifically examined and conducted a forensic analysis of 110 BVAS devices deployed during the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. He stated that INEC claimed to have wiped off the BVAS information in order to repurpose the machines for the subsequent Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections held on March 18.
During cross-examination by INEC’s counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, he challenged the witness’s report, arguing that the sample size of 110 BVAS devices was insufficient to establish any irregularities on the part of the Commission. Mahmoud further noted that a total of 3,263 BVAS devices were deployed nationwide during the presidential election, making the witness’s sample size represent only 3.5 percent of FCT’s devices and 0.06 percent of the total BVAS used across the country.
It should be recalled that INEC previously announced the need to “re-configure” all BVAS machines used in the presidential poll for subsequent elections.
President Tinubu’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and the APC’s legal team, led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, urged the court to reject the witness’s report, claiming it contained manifest errors.
Nonetheless, the petitioners’ counsel, Uche, SAN, deemed the witness’s evidence crucial to their case, emphasizing that it marked the first technologically driven election in the country.
After the witness was discharged, the petitioners tendered certified copies of INEC’s Forms EC8A from 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Ogun State. Additionally, certified copies of polling unit results (Form EC8A series) from 17 LGAs in Ondo State, 27 LGAs in Jigawa State, and 20 LGAs in Rivers State were submitted as evidence.
INEC, as well as President Tinubu and the APC, objected to the admissibility of these documents, with INEC stating that it would provide reasons in its final written address.
Despite the objections, the Justice Tsammani panel accepted the documents as evidence, marking them as Exhibits in the proceedings. The court subsequently adjourned the proceedings until Friday, allowing the petitioners to conclude their case before the Respondents present their defense.[logo-slider]