As the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is getting set to commence hearings over the controversial February 25, 2023 election, there are indications that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is finding it difficult to produce the results of more than 9000 polling units where results were allegedly manipulated.
A dependable source at the national headquarters of INEC disclosed that the commission is presently in a quagmire on how to reconcile the figures it announced during the presidential election owing to the non-availability of the original results.
It was also gathered that while the electoral body is in possession of the altered results, it however cannot produce the original results sheets signed by the presiding officers at the polling units where results were manipulated.
Further checks indicated that the crisis may not be unconnected with the fact of the controversial shutdown of the INEC server during the presidential election which made it difficult for the staff of the commission to upload results to the BiModal Accreditation Voter System (BVAS) that was later formatted for the governorship election which held three weeks later.
The challenge INEC faces as it heads to the Election Petition Tribunal is how to defend the results it announced during the election without showing evidence from the results given to them by the presiding officer, the source added.
During collation of the results, opposition parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), vehemently rejected the figures announced by INEC, stressing that the process was manipulated and results obtained in the fields severely altered in several states in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Accordingly, the parties demanded a review of the collation process to address the anomalies among which was the failure to upload photos of polling station results to a central portal, IReV, created for the purpose.
Results were supposed to be electronically transmitted from each of the more than 176,000 polling stations to the commission’s collation system and also uploaded to its website.
INEC later admitted and apologised for what it described as “technical glitches” in uploading results on the IREV portal as promised by its chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who ignored the protests of the PDP and LP and carried on with the process and declared Tinubu winner.
While announcing the results; Yakubu declared that Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes, while the PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar came second with a total of 6,984,520 votes just as he said that the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
The opposition parties rejected the outcome of the election and filed petitions at the Election Tribunal citing irregularities and INEC’s refusal and failure to abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Commission’s guidelines.
INEC and the APC have also filed counterclaims insisting the election was credible.
But, a senior INEC official who craves anonymity has revealed that, “Presidential Election results of more than 9,000 polling units across Nigeria are missing saying; “This is because the original results from the Presiding officer from which the manipulations were done, are not available for needed reconciliation. Without the results, it would be difficult to arrive at the figures that were announced.
“The original results which they collected from the Presiding officers from which they did the manipulation is what they are looking for. They need that to show the results they announced.
“For instance, in the manipulated results sheet where they have 187,000, they need the original to know if the actual votes were 187, 87 or 18. This is the biggest headache now because the numbers are not adding up,” the source revealed.
According to the source, without the original results, the commission would not be able to figure out how they arrived at the numbers that were declared.
This was as it was gathered that the development is responsible for INEC’s inability to upload 100% of the presidential election results into their system.
As at the last check, INEC was only able to upload 94.68 percent of results of the Presidential election on its IREV portal.
The source further said; “Problems started after the manipulation of the original results and the shutdown of the INEC server. Our staff were trying to be using personal phone data and hotspots to attempt to send the results to the BVAS. The process failed them and most could not snap or export results before formatting them.
“The results were said to have been snapped from the BVAS machine without exportation to INEC servers after Glo-Nigeria allegedly connived with INEC to shut down the server midway into the Presidential elections.
“The challenge INEC is having now is how they intend to go to the tribunal and show how they arrived at the results that were announced without showing evidence from the results given to them by the Presiding officer,” the source noted.
Similarly, elections did not hold in 240 polling units because there were no registered voters thus, the total number of polling units in the country now stand at 176,606 as against 176,846