The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has stated that his legal team would prove to the court how the Independent National Electoral Commission, under the guise of “technical glitches’ allegedly rigged the 2023 presidential election in favour of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu.
Recall that a widely disputed aspect of the just concluded presidential poll is the failure of the electoral umpire to immediately transmit results electronically from polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal, in line with relevant guidelines.
INEC’s spokesman, Festus Okoye, on February 26, had said the technical problem was totally due to technical hitches related to scaling up the IReV portal from a platform for managing off-season state elections to the one for managing nationwide general elections.
He denied allegations of sabotage to INEC’s systems nationwide, adding “it is indeed not unusual for glitches to occur and be corrected in such situations.”
Due to non-transmission of the results, international observers and a number of civil society organizations described the election as “lacking transparency”.
Meanwhile, in his petition before Presidential Petition Court, Abuja, Atiku disagrees with INEC’s position on the issue of electronic transmission, contending that contrary to the original design of the BVAS machine to upload data directly to the electronic collation system and the IReV portal, INEC allegedly installed an intervening third-party device (Device Management System) to manipulate the election results in favour of Tinubu.
He maintained that the Device Management System “in its ordinary usage, is meant to secure and administer the 1st Respondent’s technological ecosystem for the elections but as it relates to the Presidential Election, was used to intercept the results, quarantine and warehouse same, and filter them before releasing same to the IReV Portal.”
He told the court that there were no glitches in the presidential election but prearrangement by the INEC, stating that a few months before the poll, INEC transferred its in-house ICT expert, Chidi Nwafor, who configured the BVAS, and allegedly brought in one Mr. Suleiman Farouk, to remotely control, monitor and filter data that is transmitted from the BVAS devices to the electronic collation system and the IRev platform.
Atiku wondered that if there was a glitch on the BVAS during the presidential poll, how come results of the National Assembly was electronically transmitted the same day.
“Meanwhile, the 1st Respondent engaged an appointee of the 2nd Respondent to man and oversee the sensitive ICT Department of the 1st Respondent for the purpose of the Election.
“The Petitioners state and shall lead expert evidence to show the critical components of the 1st Respondent’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including but not limited to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which is an Android Device manufactured by Emperor Technologies China and supplied to the 1st Respondent by Activate Nigeria Limited.
“The Voter Accreditation System (VAS) which is the software that is used on the BVAS was previously designed and configured in-house and installed on the BVAS by the ICT Team of the 1st Respondent(INEC) headed by Mr. Chidi Nwafor. The VAS was subsequently handed over to Emperor Technology China prior to the Presidential Election and they then preconfigured and installed the software on the BVAS before supplying the devices to the 1st Respondent through Activate Nigeria Limited. As it relates to the IReV, the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) is a web-based data entry and aggregation portal designed also by Chidi Nwafor’s team and is hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS). The server system for the device and the portal are hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS) URL:dashboard.ivasportal.com/dash,” Atiku’s lawyers alleged.
More so, the Petitioners contend that there was no failure on INEC’s “server” or electronic ecosystem as cited by INEC, adding that the “server was cloud-based and virtual and was hosted on and by Amazon Web Service (AWS). The Petitioners shall call evidence to show that the “server” being cloud-based, in the event of any unlikely challenge, Amazon Web Service would have seamlessly switched to another server without hitch, being autoscaling groups with multiple network reception and offline upload options.”
To prove whether there was a technical glitch during the election, the petitioner stated that the companies involved in manufacturing BVAS, electronically collating, and transmitting results will be invited by them to appear during proceedings to say what they know about their products and service.
The petition partly reads,”The Petitioners state and shall lead expert evidence to show the critical components of the 1st Respondent’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including but not limited to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which is an Android Device manufactured by Emperor Technologies China and supplied to the 1st Respondent by Activate Nigeria Limited.
“The Voter Accreditation System (VAS) which is the software that is used on the BVAS was previously designed and configured in-house and installed on the BVAS by the ICT Team of the 1st Respondent headed by Mr. Chidi Nwafor. The VAS was subsequently handed over to Emperor Technology China prior to the Presidential Election and they then preconfigured and installed the software on the BVAS before supplying the devices to the 1st Respondent through Activate Nigeria Limited.
“The Petitioners shall subpoena PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to produce Quality Assurance Report and to testify; subpoena Activate Technologies Limited – BVAS Supplier and Emperor Technology Limited (also known as Shenzhen Emperor Technology Company Limited) – the BVAS Manufacturers to produce relevant supply documents and to testify. The Petitioners shall also subpoena Sulfman Consulting Ltd to produce the Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing (VAPT) Report and to testify. The Petitioners shall also subpoena expert witnesses in respect of the electronic collation system and the IReV portal.
“The Petitioners shall also subpoena Kaspersky Endpoint Security (of Thurhill Office Park, Bekker Road, Midrand, South Africa) that provided the system security for the BVAS and e-transmission system deployed by the 1st Respondent to produce relevant documents and data as well as testify on the system security. The Petitioners shall also subpoena Globacom Nigeria Limited, the internet provider for the system deployed by the 1st Respondent which internet was disconnected from the BVAS machines before transmission.
“The Petitioners shall further subpoena Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), with office at FCDA, Area 11, Abuja, which conducted due diligence on the e-transmission system deployed by the 1st Respondent using full business case that had inputs from Emperor Technology Limited and issued “Certificate of No Objection” for the system to be deployed. The Petitioners shall further subpoena National Institute of Technology Development Agency (NITDA), with an office at Gimibiya Street, Area 11, Abuja, the government agency which tested the technology in issue before deployment in Nigeria and issued relevant permits, certifications, and licenses for its deployment.”
Atiku further urged the court to declare that Tinubu’s victory is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and failure of INEC To electronically transmit the election results.
The petitioners argued that in Section 134(2) of the 1999 Constitution, for a candidate to be deemed to be the winner of the election, he must have the highest number of votes cast at the election; have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in at least two thirds of all the States in the Federation; and have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He claimed that INEC’s declaration of Tinubu was premature and unconstitutional because the APC scored less than 25% percent in FCT, aside wide spread alleged manipulation of the process in several states.
Atiku’s prayers are as follows:
“(a). That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the Election and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent as the winner of the Presidential Election conducted on the 25th day of February, 2023 is unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, undue, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“(b). That it may be determined that the return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent was wrongful, unlawful, undue, null and void having not satisfied the requirements of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which mandatorily requires the 2nd Respondent to score not less than one quarter (25%) of the lawful votes cast at the Election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“(c). That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.IN THE ALTERNATIVE:
“(d). That it may be determined that the 1st Petitioner having scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the Presidential election of Saturday, 25th February, 2023, be returned as the winner of the said election and be sworn in as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“(e). An Order directing the 1st Respondent to conduct a second election (run-off) between the 1st Petitioner and the 2nd Respondent.IN THE FURTHER ALTERNATIVE:
“(f). That the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25th February, 2023 be nullified and a fresh election (re-run) ordered.
“(g). Any such further relief(s) as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the interest of justice.”