March 23, 2023

INEC used 3rd party device to switch results for Tinubu — Atiku



By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of installing a third-party device he said was used to intercept and switch results of the presidential election that was held on February 25 in favour of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Atiku, in a 66-page petition lodged before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, 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 install the third-party mechanism.

According to Atiku, the said IT Consultant, Mr Suleiman Farouk, ensured that the device was intermediated between the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the IRev Portal, known as Device Management System, DMS.

He told the court that the DMS was the software that allowed INEC’s IT Security Consultant, Mr. Farouk, to remotely control, monitor and filter data transmitted from the BVAS devices to the electronic collation system and the IRev platform.

“The 1st Respondent (INEC) engaged an appointee of the 2nd Respondent (INEC) to man and oversee the sensitive ICT Department of the 1st Respondent for the purpose of the Election.

‘Third-party device installed’

“The petitioners contend and shall lead evidence to show that contrary to the original design of the BVAS machine to upload data directly to the electronic collation system and the IReV portal, the 1st Respondent contrived and installed an intervening third-party device (Device Management System) which, in its ordinary usage, is meant to secure and administer the 1st Respondent’s technological ecosystem for the elections but as it relates to the presidential election, was used to intercept the results, quarantine and warehouse same, and filter them before releasing same to the IReV portal.

“The 1st Respondent used the said Device Management System to manipulate the election results in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.

“The petitioners state and shall lead expert evidence to show the critical components of the 1st Respondent’s Information and Communications Technology, ICT, including but not limited to the BVAS which is an Android Device manufactured by Emperor Technologies China and supplied to the 1st Respondent by Activate Nigeria Limited.

The Voter Accreditation System, VAS, which is the software that is used on the BVAS was previously designed and configured in-house and installed on the BVAS by the ICT Team of the 1st Respondent headed by Mr. Chidi Nwafor.

“The VAS was subsequently handed over to Emperor Technology China prior to the Presidential Election and they then preconfigured and installed the software on the BVAS before supplying the devices to the 1st Respondent through Activate Nigeria Limited.

“As it relates to the IReV, the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) is a web-based data entry and aggregation portal designed also by Chidi Nwafor’s team and is hosted on Amazon Web Service, AWS.

“The server system for the device and the portal are hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS),” he added

Besides, Atiku, who came second in the presidential election, in the petition he filed alongside his party, PDP, maintained that INEC, having set the parameters of the poll, “did not ensure compliance with the electronic transmission of accreditation data and results in the election to create opportunity for manipulation of figures to the advantage of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents”.

The petitioners said they would during the hearing of the petition, lead evidence to show that there were no technical glitches that prevented the upload and transmission of the polling units results and the accreditation data of the presidential election to the electronic collation system and the IReV portal.

They alleged that what happened was “the non-adherence to the system through a command and control element activated by a pre-programmed design to limit user-privileges of the front-end users of the BVAS machines at the polling units with respect to presidential election results while releasing user privileges in respect of the National Assembly election windows, by selectively withholding correct passwords and/or issuing wrong passwords through the use of the Device Management System equipment aforesaid.”

‘No server failures as claimed by INEC’

Arguing that there was no failure of the server as claimed by INEC, the petitioners said they would adduce evidence to show that the “server,” being cloud-based, in the event of any unlikely challenge, Amazon Web Service would have seamlessly switched to another server without hitch, being autoscaling groups with multiple network reception and offline upload options.

“The petitioners contend that the technology system deployed by the 1st Respondent underwent Quality Assurance Tests (“QAT”) before acquisition and deployment.

“The 1st Respondent is, hereby, given notice to produce the QAT Report that was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC, as well as the Report of Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing, VAPT, by Consultant Suleiman Farouk of Sulfman Consulting Limited and all other subsequent and related reports on the system.

“The petitioners contend that the so-called ‘glitch’ was a bypass to tilt and switch the results of the presidential election in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents,” they added.

More so, they said among people they would subpoena to appear before the court to testify, would include PwC, expert witnesses in respect of the electronic collation system and the IReV portal, as well as Kaspersky Endpoint Security (of Thurhill Office Park, Bekker Road, Midrand, South Africa), which provided the system security for the BVAS and e-transmission system deployed by INEC, Globacom Nigeria Limited, the internet provider for the system deployed by INEC, “which internet was disconnected from the BVAS machines before transmission.

“The petitioners shall also call evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners, fingerprint and ICT experts at the hearing of the petition to establish that the figures/scores awarded the 2nd Respondent were not the product of valid votes actually cast but mere allocation by the 1st Respondent, and the summation of the result declared is inconsistent with and cannot be reconciled with the number of duly accredited voters.

“The petitioners plead and shall rely on BVAS reports, the results sheets of the polling units, wards, local governments, states and the national manually collated results and electronic video recordings of several acts of infractions of the electoral process by the Respondents.’’

‘Full results not uploaded before declaring winner’

Atiku and his party argued that as of March 1 when Tinubu was declared the winner of the election, the entire results and accreditation data from polling units had not been transmitted and uploaded by INEC.

“The petitioners contend that the 1st Respondent is in clear breach of the provisions of the law under Sections 60 and 64(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act 2022 by failing to use the BVAS to transmit the election results at the polling units and the accreditation data therefrom to the electronic collation system and the IRev Portal.  ‘’Despite the failure to so transmit and several complaints for review, the 1st Respondent’s chairman refused all entreaties and applications for the suspension of the collation exercise and a review of the complaints before declaring a winner of the election and repeatedly off-handedly dared the petitioners to go to court.

“The petitioners contend that contrary to the provisions of the 1st Respondent’s Regulations and Manual which stipulate the transmission of both accreditation data and the polling units results from the BVAS directly and real-time to the electronic collation system and the IReV portal, the 1st Respondent introduced a device manager called Collation Support and Results Verification System, CSRVS, with which the results from the polling units were quarantined, prior to transmission to the IReV portal, leaving room for the 1st Respondent to upload wrong results.”

‘Tinubu didn’t get one-quarter of FCT votes’

On another leg of the petition, Atiku argued that Tinubu did not secure at least one-quarter of the votes cast in the presidential election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. He stressed that out of the total votes of 478,652 cast in the FCT, Abuja, Tinubu, was ascribed only 90,902 (18.99%) of the votes.

“The petitioners shall contend that to be declared duly elected, a candidate, in addition to obtaining not less than a quarter (25%) of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of all the states, must also receive at least one quarter (25%) of the votes cast in the FCT, Abuja, this being an additional requirement introduced by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the said Constitution having clearly distinguished the FCT, Abuja as a separate entity by specific and express mention.

“The petitioners further aver that all over Nigeria, there were manifest cases of over-voting. The total of the affected polling units in the various states are set out in the statistician’s report pleaded and relied upon by the petitioners”.

They are, among other things, praying the court to hold that Tinubu was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the election and, therefore, the declaration and his return by INEC as the winner of the presidential election was unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, undue, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.”

In the alternative, the petitioners want the court to declare that Atiku, having scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the presidential election, be returned as the winner of the said election and be sworn in as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, or to issue an order directing INEC to conduct a second election (run-off) between the 1st petitioner (Atiku) and the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu). In their further alternative prayer, the petitioners urged the court to nullify the presidential election and order a re-run.