Presidential poll results in Borno were changed at collation center -- witness - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, June 2, 2023

Presidential poll results in Borno were changed at collation center -- witness

A witness, Mr. Nicolas Msheriza, who appeared before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, on Friday, alleged that actual results of the presidential election that held in Borno state on February 25, were changed at the ward collation center. 

Mr. Msheriza testified as the fifth petitioners' witness, PW-5,  for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who are challenging the outcome of the presidential election.

Led in evidence by lead counsel for the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the witness, adopted a statement on oath he made on March 21, as his evidence before the court. 

Answering questions under cross-examination, the witness told the court that though PDP agents were chased away from the collation center, they still performed well "where they were allowed to do so". 

On his allegation that the election was rigged in favour of the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, President Bola Tinubu, the witness, said: "Yes, it is true that real elections were held at the polling units, but the real disaster and rigging took place at the Ward Collation Center where the actual results that were obtained from the polling units were changed. 

"If you compare the results from the polling units with the ones from the Wards, they were totally at variance."

Continuing, the witness said: "My lords, results from the polling units were not electronically transmitted as required by the Electoral Act.

"Like I said, our agents did well, where they were not chased out."

Mr. Msheriza further told the court that there were a total of 5,071 polling units in Borno state.

Asked if he listed in his witness statement, all the units where PDP agents were not allowed to perform their duties, the witness said he did not do so.

He said: "The thing is that at the units, the elections were held and it was substantially peaceful. Voting was carried out, not necessarily in compliance with the Electoral Act. 

"For instance, in 10 LGAs from Borno North, elections were largely held by bypassing the BVAS. 

"When we applied to INEC immediately after the election to give us results from our polling units to enable us to tabulate the areas we had issues with, they refused and asked us to wait for our lawyers to do so.

"This is why I did not include them in my statement," he added.

Earlier in the proceedings, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Sani Idris Kutugi, who testified as the fourth witness for the petitioners, identified a document that contained the summary of collated result of the presidential election in Niger state. 

The result, contained in Form EC 8D of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was earlier admitted in evidence by the court as Exhibit PC 26.

While being cross-examined by INEC's lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, the witness, told the court that he was familiar with the voting procedure. 

"I am a registered voter and I voted in the presidential election and I am familiar with the voting process," the witness stated, adding that PDP had agents in all the polling units in Niger State. 

He said it was after the entry of scores or results in the Form EC8A, that the Presiding Officer snaps and upload same in INEC's I-Rev portal.

Answering questions from President Tinubu's lead counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, the witness, told the court that there were a total of 4,947 polling units in Niger state. 

He told the court that he served as the State Collation Agent of the PDP during the presidential election, alleging that INEC refused to transmit actual results from polling units to its I-Rev portal.

Nevertheless, the witness admitted that he did not state the said actual results he made reference to, in the statement he made on oath before the court. 

When he was cross-examined by the lead counsel for the  APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the PW-4, said he did not agree with the result that INEC announced at the end of the election, which he said gave APC a total of 375, 183 votes and 284, 898 votes to the PDP.

"My lords, I protested against the results. You see, I come from a state that has over seven LGAs occupied by bandits.

"Because that result was not a true reflection of the actual votes, I refused to sign the result sheet," the witness added. 

Asked if he included the actual results in his statement, the witness answered in the negative.

In his own evidence, the sixth witness, Mr. Silas Onu, a legal practitioner and politician, told the court that he served as a Collation Agent for the PDP in Ebonyi State. 

He said as a Collation Agent, he was not confined to any particular area. 

"We were permitted to move around the state and as Collation Agent, I was responsible for receiving calls and elections reports from party agents at polling units and local government levels.

"Some of our agents collected copies of the results, while others were chased away from the polling units. Some were even locked up in police stations. I got to know because they reported," the witness stated.

Onu, further told the court that there were 2,964 polling units in Ebonyi, spread across 13 Local Government Areas and 171 Wards in the state.

Asked how many polling units he visited, the PW-5, said: "My lords, I cannot say so off hand. But Ebonyi is quite a small state."

He said there was no fixed time for the transmission of results from polling units to both the collation system and the I-Rev portal, adding that infractions occured in all the polling units in the state.

"I was not present in all the polling units, but I visited as many as I could. I also received reports from our agents and verified them," the witness told the court.

It will be recalled that Atiku, who came second in the presidential election, had earlier tendered 118 exhibits before the court to support the petition he filed to challenge President Tinubu's election victory.

Atiku and the PDP, are in their joint petition marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, praying the court to among other things, nullify Tinubu's election and order INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to him.

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