I decided to continue on this topic because of developing issues and fresh facts emanating therefrom. A few days ago, a celebrated Nigerian Nollywood Actress posted on her Instagramhandle that INEC has started uploading the real results from the Polling Units as shown in the INEC Result viewing portal (IREV), and called on people to follow up in the hope that it will lead to INEC reversing herself and declaring the presumed real winner of the election, Mr. Peter Obi as the President-elect, and withdrawing the Certificate of Return earlier issued to AsiwajuBola Ahmed Tinubu. And when I read a few of the comments from her followers, I realized that most of them did not actually understand how these things work, so I decided to educate them, as I am doing now.
Firstly, we were told that the Presiding Officers at Polling Units on election day were instructed during their training before the election, that even if there was no response from the INEC server or no network at their end, they should go ahead and upload the result offline, such that when the INEC server comes up or the network is restored, the uploaded results would drop on the INEC server and can be viewed by the public on the INEC Result viewing portal (IREV), meaning that those results may no longer be viewed in real time by the public. So what happened was that the results uploaded in offline mode by the Presiding Officers at the polling units on the day of election started uploading automatically when the server was restarted, not that INEC suddenly started uploading the real results. Again, in the event that the total figure changes to the extent that the presumed winner eventually becomes the real winner from the data on the INEC server as may be revealed eventually by the Result portal, INEC cannot reverse herself by withdrawing the Certificate of Return issued to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because INEC lacks the power to do so having declared a winner after collation. It is only the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that has the power to do that after it has been proven beyond reasonable doubts that the initial declaration by INEC, of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was done in error. The Tribunal will now order INEC to issue a new Certificate of Return to the real winner as confirmed by the Tribunal.
This is the reason the Presidential Candidates of Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakarrespectively, had approached the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and obtained permission by an Order of the Tribunal to inspect all the materials used in the conduct of the Presidential elections of 25th February, including the 176,000 Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, result sheets among other things. As expected, INEC as a Respondent in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, in a bid to protect herself and cover up for what they have done, had approached the Tribunal with an Application to vary the Order to enable her reconfigure the BVAS machines for use in the Governorship and State Assembly Elections earlier scheduled for March 11th. There has been this presumption that what INEC actually want to do is to wipe out or alter the data in the BVAS machines to suit what they have done and protect the result they have earlier announced, and in doing so INEC had assured the Tribunal that the reconfiguration of the BVAS will not wipe out the already stored data as the data will be saved in a back end server to be accessed by the Applicants after the conduct of the Governorship elections. This was contained in INEC’s averments in the Affidavit in support of their application for the variation of the earlier order allowing the Petitioners, Peter Obi of LP and Atiku Abubaker of PDP to inspect the election materials. The implication is that, if turns out in the end that the data in the BVAS are lost after the reconfiguration, it means that INEC deceived the Court by lying under Oath, and this will have dare consequences, not only on the individuals involved but on the entire electoral system and the nation at large, as it will call to real question, the integrity of INEC as an institution.
Since the matter is now before the Presidential Election Petition tribunal, I will refrain from further writing on the election, in fact I had no intention of doing this today, if not for the post I saw on instagram, hence my decision to educate us on the real workings of the post-election issues. The onus is now on the Petitioners to prove their cases beyond reasonable doubts, for the Tribunal to grant their prayers. We can only hope for the best, believing that the legal teams of the petitioners had made the necessary prayers to the Tribunal, as the Court is not fatherChristmas to grant what a petitioner did not ask. If you ask for cancellation, even if it turns out that the facts show that you actually won the election, you will not be declared winner because you did not ask the court for that.
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.