INEC’s Artful Compromise On e-Collation Of Results: A Clear Case For The Jury

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

To say Nigeria is a country full of aberrations is an obvious understatement, if not how could a multi billion Naira pilot scheme deployed for purposes of tracking and monitoring the outcome of a very crucial Presidential Election now be portrayed as irrelevant and insignificant in the entire process?

If INEC could do a somersault by claiming that the Card Reader technology that the agency received N27 billion for its ICT was only used for authentication contrary to its own guidelines then this country should actually stand up to ask the administrators of INEC to explain what they did with the money given the Commission for the purposes of conducting a hitch-free election.

Without doubt, from all the recent crossfire by the duo of the Spokesperson of Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo and INEC on one hand and Atiku Abubakar and the PDP on the other, it is obvious that the most critical case in the petition submitted to the Presidential Election Tribunal by Atiku against the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has been narrowed down to technology-based issues and this makes it a very clear case for the jury to adjudicate.

First we need to establish and agree on the following: Did INEC use card readers for authentication of voters and actual voting? Did the electoral umpire transmit results (some or all) of the election electronically? Also, does INEC host a backend data server that received the transmitted results?

In his submission to the Presidential Election Tribunal, the former Vice President had given the “unique MAC address and Microsoft product ID of the INEC server” from where the results were obtained and had insisted the address of the server from which the results were obtained is unique to INEC.

As said, “The Servers from which the said figures were derived belong to the first Respondent (INEC). The figures and votes were transmitted to the first Respondent’s Presidential Result’s Server 1 and thereafter aggregated in INEC_PRES_RSLT_SRV2019, whose Physical Address or unique Mac Address is 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9 with Microsoft Product ID 00252-7000000000-AA535. The above descriptions are unique to the 15t Respondent’s Server.”

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If INEC does not have things to hide from its system, what is wrong in asking the electoral umpire to bring the evidence of their e-collation for the purposes of comparison with their manual collation?

The Atiku’s Petition is relying on the content of the e-collation for purposes of establishing the fact that the Manual Collation is not a reflection of what transpired on the day of the Presidential Election.

If the content of e-collation sent to the Server is placed side-by-side with the manually collated results and they turn out to be the same figures, well and fine but if there are variance, then INEC should explain to Nigerians at the Tribunal how it arrived at the results it announced which Atiku is challenging.

We know both documents are in the possession of INEC so why the fuzz around? Is it because Atiku is bent on using the scheme in establishing the alleged fraud in the process of collating and announcing the election results? It is necessary to show that what was announced wasn’t reflective of the voters will and preference.

If Atiku claims to have cogent evidence from INEC’S own pilot e-collation Server, which clearly reveals how Nigerians voted in the 2019 Presidential Election, is it a bad thing to work hard and prove the existence of a fact?

Nigerians need to understand the case and not be distracted or rather misled by Keyamo and his gang.

For sure, INEC knows that all is not well with the result it announced and that’s why the Commission has been doing everything possible to obfuscate the issues in the case as it will expose the massive fraud perpetrated by INEC, Buhari and the APC as the figures from various Polling Units will be totally at variance.

Curiously, rather than answer the points of substance Atiku raised in his petition, the electoral umpire in conjunction with Keyamo and his gang have spent all their efforts in distractions. They have been making series of releases as Buhari/APC/INEC’s responses to the issues raised by the opposition in their petition and almost all of these are full of extraneous facts, contradictory, evasive, speculative and vague assertions, and he still calls such as statements of defence.

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Keyamo should actually help us to understand him clearly. If the results Atiku/PDP pleaded in their petition was not from INEC Server, why would the spokesman for the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation write and submit a petition to the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Service, asking the security agencies to investigate him (Atiku) for allegedly hacking into the server of INEC to obtain the data in question? Haba, oshari!

Is it not curious that INEC was initially evasive and inconsistent as per issues concerning e-collation of results through the use of backend data server(s) and card readers? If Keyamo claims Atiku smuggled in the election results he would have to explain whether Atiku or INEC created the file on INEC Server and for what purpose the file was created and what the content was. If he claims the file was meant for the manual results collation, a forensic expert can easily compare the dates of the initial data storage on the file with the date of the manual collation and determine if he is telling the truth or not.

Interestingly, over 13 Presiding Officers (POs) in Borno and Yobe states have come out to tell the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja that they transmitted the results of the February 23 Presidential election in their various units and wards to the official server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The POs in their respective Witness Statement of Oath in support of the petition filed by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku, challenging the election of President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, stated that the electoral body had, during their training, instructed them on how to transmit the results to its Server.

Surprisingly, INEC and Keyamo are still arguing that the figures released by Atiku are not from INEC’s backend Server even when an amateurish system security operator can obtain such information without any stress. First is identifying the Server holding the results as belonging to INEC and not someone else and that is where the MAC address comes in. The next step is to identify the particular file on the Server holding the results. The last step is to identify the content of the file as being election results. Shikina, case closed!

Recall that this same INEC at a point postponed the collation of the presidential election results on the excuse that their “server” was down. Only for the Commission’s Chairman, Prof Yakubu in his response submitted to the Presidential Election Tribunal 2019 to turnaround to claim that no results were recorded on the Commission’s backend Server.  So, where were the entire results stored? Clearly they have a server and Atiku has the serial number from where the results were obtained. You see why Nigerians believe the PDP case is a very easy one to establish?

(IFEANYI IZEZE: Writes from Abuja: [email protected]; 234-8033043009)