Presidential poll: Disquiet in Buhari’s camp over Presiding Officers’ testimonies

By Isiaq Olumodan, Idowu Isamotu and Adekunle Adebayo

Ahead of May 29 swearing-in ceremony for the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari in office, stalwarts of the ruling All Progressives Congress and top officials in the cabinet of present administration are perfecting aftermath of February 23 Presidential election, SAHEL STANDARD can report.

This was followed after a dozen of ad hoc staff employed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who served as Presiding Officers revealed that they transferred results from polling units to the commission’s server electronically through the use of card readers.

It would be recalled that the Presidential candidate of People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, who is challenging the victory of President Buhari at tribunal, had claimed the votes he polled were more than that of his main rival.

Abubakar claimed he beat incumbent President with a margin of over 1.6 million votes as obtained from the server of the commission, saying INEC deliberately pulled down the results from its server and replaced it with a doctored one to favour President Buhari.

In his 139-page petition challenging the results at the election tribunal, Atiku said the results from INEC server showed he polled 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari who had 16,741,430 votes.

But INEC had dismissed Atiku’s claim, describing it as untrue, that the results Abubakar is parading were fabricated.

According to INEC, figures from the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) gave Buhari 15,191,847 votes, while Atiku came second with 11,262,978 votes.

The APC had also accused the PDP and its candidate of being ‘delusional’ over the claims.

Atiku and the PDP, however, vowed to employ the service of experts from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle to verify their claims.

Meanwhile, a top presidency source, who spoke with one of our correspondents said the ‘cabals’ in Villa are not leaving anything to chance after Presiding Officers revealed they transferred the results to INEC’s server.

“Presently, meetings are being held day and night between top echelons in government and the party’s leadership to tidy up what seems scattered with INEC before tribunal sittings continue,” the source said.

Thirteen of the Presiding Officers in their witness statement of oath had said, INEC during their training, instructed them on how to electronically transmit the results to its server.

“I took part in the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) elections of 23rd February, 2019 where I served as the Presiding Officer (PO) and I ensured the use of the Smart Card Reader for accreditation, verification, authentication, collation and transmission of votes in my polling unit.

“At the end of voting, the information on the Smart Card Reader with the results inclusive, were collated by me in the presence of the party agents and other ad-hoc staff of the 1st Respondent after which my Assistant Presiding Officer (AP0-1) transmitted the result electronically in my presence to the 1st Respondent’s server, using the Smart Card Reader (SCR) and the code provided by the 1st Respondent,” one of the presiding officers had said.

Another presiding officer said: “I was employed as an ad hoc staff and trained for three days by the 1st Respondent at the Government College, Maiduguri, Bomo State to serve as a Presiding Officer (PO) at Waliri Polling Unit with Code 003, of Shehun Barna Ward, Bomo State on the 23rd February, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) elections.”

Also, a source close to the leadership of APC confided in one of our correspondents that “since when the presiding officers have revealed how they transferred the results of February 23 Presidential election, some members of NWC have met with top officials including the legal team”, adding that they will still meet over the matter.

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