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Presidential election was well-conducted, Atiku’s witnesses tell court

Testifying before the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) on Friday, three witnesses called by Atiku Abubakar and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared that the exercise went well in the states where they served as election officials.

The witnesses; Grace Ajagbonna, Abidemi Joseph and Obosa Edosa, who testified before the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) as the petitioners’ subpoenaed witnesses, said they were ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and served as presiding officers in Kogi, Niger, and Edo states.

Ajagbonna, Joseph and Edosa said the whole election process went well where they served and that they complied with all the rules and regulations.

Ajagbonna

Led in evidence by petitioners’ lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), Ajagbonna, who featured as the 14th witness of the petitioners (PW14), adopted her written statement, which was admitted by the court after the respondents registered their objection to its admissibility and promised to give reasons at the final address stage.

While being cross-examination by INEC’s lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), Ajagbonna said she accredited voters using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device and complied with all the instructions as was handed to them during training.

“The accreditation process went well. The voting process also went well. I collated the results and recorded them in Form EC8A by myself. I signed and the party agents also signed. At the end of the whole exercise, I took the Form EC8A to the Ward Collation Centre and submitted it to the Ward Collation Officer,” she said.

Ajagbonna also said all other aspects of the election process went smoothly except the transmission of the presidential election result.

“My Lord, to be sincere, I was not happy. I was not happy that I was not able to transmit the result of the presidential election. Everything else went peacefully. The election went well,” she added.

When asked if she wrote her statement herself, the witness said, yes. However, she was unable to explain what she meant by the word, “simultaneously.”

She had stated in the statement that she tried to upload the Form EC8A and the election results simultaneously, but was unsuccessful.

Asked by Mahmoud what she meant by trying to upload Form EC8A and result simultaneously, since both referred to the same item, Ajagbonna said she meant “continuously or one after the other.”

During cross-examination by the lawyer to President Bola Tinubu, Yusuf Ali (SAN), Ajagbonna said all the party agents signed the Form EC8A before she took the picture with the BVAS device and later submitted it at the Ward Collation Centre.

As she was being cross-examined by lawyer to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Ajagbonna said by their training, no election official or party agent was expected to leave his/her duty post during the election.

“By our training, nobody else is allowed at the polling unit l, except the presiding officer, collation office, party agents, security officials and the voters. A collation officer or agent and others who were assigned roles are expected to stay at their duty posts during the election, not moving about,” she said.

Joseph

Joseph gave similar evidence, but added during cross-examination by Ali, that they were taught during training not to compel any party agent to sign result sheets, adding that the choice to sign or decline was that of the party agents to make.

Edosa

According to Edosa, the election process went well, but for her inability to upload the result at her polling unit.

She said, “I did the accreditation using the BVAS machine. The process of accreditation went very well.  Voting went very well too. We sorted and counted the votes and recorded the scores in the Form EC8A.

“I entered the figures manually. After that, the party agents and I signed the Form EC8A. I tried to upload the result using the BVAS machine, but it failed.

“What I was to upload was the image of the Form EC8A, which I had filled manually. Form EC8A is the result sheet.

“The accreditation process went well. The voting process also went well. I collated the results and recorded them in Form EC8A by myself. I signed and the party agents also signed.

“At the end of the whole exercise, I took the Form EC8A to the Ward Collation Centre and submitted it to the ward collation officer.”

Under cross-examination by Olujinmi, Edosa, like the other previous witnesses, said it was their first time using the BVAS device, having only encountered it during their pre-assignment training by INEC.

At the conclusion of Edosa’s testimony, Uche applied for adjournment, which lawyers to the respondents supported, following which the court adjourned further hearing till 10:00 am on Saturday.

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