The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hit a snag in its defense of the 2023 presidential election results due to the absence of its witness. The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja had resumed its proceedings to enable the electoral body to call its first witness to justify its declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the presidential election.
However, INEC’s team of lawyers, led by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, informed the court that their witness was unavailable due to a domestic issue. Despite the commission’s intention to produce three witnesses to defend the outcome of the disputed presidential poll, the proceedings were adjourned until the following day.
The delay in proceedings comes amid the admission of the European Union Election Observer Mission’s final report, which criticized the conduct and outcome of the 2023 presidential election. The report, tendered by the former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, claimed that the presidential election lacked credibility, fairness, and transparency.
The report’s admission as an exhibit has sparked controversy, with President Bola Tinubu, the APC, and INEC vehemently objecting to its inclusion. The report claimed that only 31 percent of the presidential election result was uploaded into INEC’s result viewing portal.
The INEC’s sole witness and Director of Information Technology, Lawrence Bayode, admitted that the electoral body does not have an electronic collation system for election results, and the presidential election result was not electronically collated. He further stated that glitches experienced on the election day did not affect the final results and scores of candidates at the election.
The case has been deferred until the following day, allowing INEC to produce its first witness. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the credibility of the 2023 presidential election and the future of electoral transparency in Nigeria.