" ITREALMS: PEPT: How INEC deleted BVAS data, says witness - ITREALMS

Friday, June 23, 2023

PEPT: How INEC deleted BVAS data, says witness - ITREALMS

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The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) proceedings on Thursday in Abuja heard how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu, president-elect on March 1 in the February 25, 2023 poll, and went on to delete essential data sets in its Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) presidential result, reports 
PEPT: How INEC deleted BVAS data, says witness - ITREALMS
As announced by INEC, only the Labour Party secured more than the required 25 per cent of votes cast in the territory, as both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to reach the score.

This is also on the back of the constitutional requirement of 25 per cent total votes to be secured to be declared winner of the presidential election, which neither APC nor the PDP candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu, respectively, secured, even though the latter was announced president-elect.

Atiku’s Digital Forensic Analyst as witness during Thursday’s proceedings told the PEPT that INEC deliberately deleted the FCT Presidential election result from its BVAS machines.

The digital forensic expert, Mr. Hitler Nwala, Thursday, narrated before the court how INEC wiped off results of the presidential election of February 25, 2023 from its BVAS data after the election when it became obvious the commission had erred in declaring the APC candidate, Tinubu as winner without having secured the constitutionally-required 25 per cent of votes cast in the presidential election.

Mr. Nwala mounted the box as the 25th witness of the candidate of the PDP and Atiku, who is challenging the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as winner of the presidential election.

Testifying before the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel, the witness alleged that the results that were deleted, were contained in the BVAS machines, that were deployed for the conduct of the elections.

Atiku and his party had insisted that data from the BVAS machines which were used for the accreditation of voters and uploading of polling unit results, would establish their allegation that the presidential election was rigged in Tinubu’s favour.

Meanwhile, led in evidence by lead counsel for the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, Nwala said he was summoned through a subpoena, to appear as a witness in the case, further told the court that he specifically inspected and conducted forensic analysis on 110 BVAS that were deployed for the conduct of the presidential election in the FCT, Abuja.

According to him, upon his enquiry, the electoral body maintained that it had to wipe off the information in the BVAS to be able to redeploy them for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections that held on March 18.

However, during cross-examination of the witness, counsel to INEC, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, faulted report of the witness, stressing that 110 BVAS devices used for the election, was not sufficient to establish that there was any irregularity on the part of the Commission.

Mahmoud, SAN, while contending that the sample size the witness relied on to write his report, was small, noted that a total of 3, 263 BVAS devices, were deployed during the presidential election.

In the other hearing, Thursday, the Labour Party in its petition, also seeking to overturn the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the February 25 election, continued with its Wednesday’s witness, specifically witness number 8, Mr Chibuike Ugboke , a Cyber Security Expert who was Examined in Chief, during Wednesday’s proceedings, and now called up for cross examination by respondents’ counsels.

During cross examination, Ugboke said he was contacted by LP around March 10, 2023, further disclosing that he conducted an elaborate report and concluded a preliminary on 17th & 18th of March and final report around mid-may.

He read the petition and replies in the middle of his report, while also responding to further questioning by stating that chances of error in the testing stage of an app abounds but negligible in deployment stage.

According to him, three polling units were used as proof concept or example to display the metadata, adding that he did everything on his computer , adding that it is not his responsibility to know if results were properly collated or not

He admitted he is very familiar with AWS, it has 3 properties (confidentiality of data, integrity and availability) but does not guarantee the security of its infrastructure.

He insisted he is familiar with Cloud Trail and when INEC said ‘BVAS & iREV has come to stay and uploading of results will happen in real time.’

He admitted however, that he neither inspected the BVAS nor interviewed Festus Okoye in the referred document; and he is not aware that PDP won in a referenced LGA and LP won 95% of votes in Anambra State.

He mentioned 23 pages of metadata and referenced Anambra, Bauchi and Rivers states, but clarified that it is not true that agreements on security features are only known to parties who can unlock at any time; ‘Service level is known but not displayed to public,’ he said.

Labour Party’s second witness for the day, and 9th expert witness, Barr Emmanuel Edet, was called up. Edet who is the Head Legal Services Department of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said he was subpoenaed to appear before the court to tender three documents, including; emails and communications for infrastructure for conduct of elections between them and INEC, Certificate of clearance approval or clearance issued to INEC by NITDA, and the report submitted by INEC to them regarding BVAS and electronic transmission.

He, however, failed to provide any of these documents in court, even as he disclosed that he obtained approval from his boss to appear in court.

Despite objection to his cross examination by respondents, Mr. Edet said that in NITDA Act 2007, IS0 27001 Certification Standard is a Statutory Requirement for Organizations like INEC, just as he said he is aware that the now former Minister of Communication & Digital Economy, Isa Pantami disclosed that there were 16 million attempts to hack INEC infrastructure.

Another star witness called up, Mr. Yunusa Tanko (as 10th witness) said he is a member of the Labour Party, LP Situation Room and an Accountant by profession.

His witness statement on oath, receipts and letters sent to INEC were all tendered, not objected to by respondents, were admitted and tagged as exhibits by the court.

According to Tanko, he can identify all the INEC Forms EC8A, B, C, D, E & CTCs of blurred IREV results which were tendered in evidence when he comes up for cross examination, Friday.

The PEPT justices ended all proceedings and adjourned till Friday, June 23 for further hearing.

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