INEC erased BVAS data after presidential election, forensic expert testifies

A forensic expert hired by the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has told the Court of Appeal that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) erased the data in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines used for the February 25 presidential election.

The expert, Dr. David Njoku, testified on Thursday as a subpoenaed witness for Obi, who is challenging the declaration of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election.

Njoku said he conducted a forensic analysis of the BVAS machines and found out that they had been reconfigured by INEC after the election, thereby deleting the original data that contained the polling unit results.

He said he was able to recover some of the deleted data using a software called EnCase and presented a report of his findings to the court.

He said the recovered data showed that Obi won the election with 18.3 million votes, while Tinubu came second with 16.7 million votes.

He also said that some of the BVAS machines failed to upload the results to INEC’s I-Rev portal on the election day, contrary to the claim of INEC that all results were transmitted electronically.

He said he verified this by comparing the BVAS data with the I-Rev data and found discrepancies in some states.

He said he also found evidence of tampering with the BVAS data by a third-party device called Device Management System (DMS), which he said was installed by an IT consultant hired by INEC.

He said the DMS intercepted and switched the BVAS data in favour of Tinubu and APC.

He said he was able to trace the IP address of the DMS to a location in Lagos.

Njoku’s testimony was corroborated by two INEC ad-hoc staff members who served as Presiding Officers in Abia and Bauchi states during the general elections.

The witnesses, Egumah Friday and Grace Timothy, who were also subpoenaed by Obi, told the court that on the day of the presidential election, all efforts they made to upload polling unit results to INEC’s I-Rev portal using the BVAS machines failed.

They said they were however surprised that though results of the presidential election failed to upload through the BVAS machines, they were able to upload results of the National Assembly elections that held on the same day.

The subpoenaed INEC ad-hoc staff members who are ex-corps members said they however snapped pictures of the results with the BVAS machines.

President Tinubu and APC did not oppose the evidence of Grace but accused Friday of being an impostor.

They told the court that the name of the Presiding Officer that was at the polling unit that Friday claimed that he served on the election day was Faga Kehen.

The Justice Tsammani-led panel adjourned further hearing on the case till Friday.

Obi, who came second in the presidential contest that held on February 25, had in the joint petition he filed with his party, alleged that the election was rigged in favour of Tinubu and APC.

In his 66-paged petition, Obi accused INEC of installing a third-party device he said was used to intercept and switch results of the presidential election in favour of Tinubu and APC.

He further alleged that INEC had prior to the election, redeployed its in-house ICT expert, Mr. Chidi Nwafor, and replaced him with an IT Consultant that helped it to install the third-party mechanism.

According to Obi, the IT Consultant, Mr. Suleiman Farouk, ensured that the device intermediated between the BVAS and the IRev Portal, known as DMS.

Obi is seeking a declaration that he was duly elected as President of Nigeria by virtue of having scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

He is also asking the court to nullify Tinubu’s election and order a fresh election.

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