The final report of the European Union Observer Mission regarding the presidential election of February 25 was allowed in evidence by the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Monday.
According to The PUNCH, the EU report was presented at the tribunal by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who are challenging the outcome of the poll, in which President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The EU claimed that the election fell short of expectations in its final report, which was presented last week.
Premium Politics reported that the Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission, Barry Andrews, at a press briefing, said, “The election exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signal a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.”
The EU added that the way the election was conducted damaged public confidence in INEC.
However, the Presidency accused the EU of bias and intending to “impeach the integrity of the 2023 elections” in a statement released on Sunday by the President’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communication, and Strategy, Dele Alake. The Presidency described the 2023 elections as the “best organised general elections in Nigeria since 1999.”
Alake said, “We strongly reject, in its entirety, any notion and idea from any organisation, group, and individual remotely suggesting that the 2023 election was fraudulent.”
On Monday, however, Atiku, through his lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), presented the EU report before the tribunal while cross-examining an INEC witness, Lawrence Bayode.
INEC, which was named as a defendant in Atiku’s lawsuit, launched its defence on Monday in order to demonstrate the credibility of the presidential election.
The INEC witness acknowledged, on cross-examination by Uche, that as of March 1, 2023, when Tinubu was declared the victor of the election, INEC had not yet uploaded all of the presidential election results onto the IRev.
Only 31% of the presidential election results, according to the witness, were uploaded to INEC’s result viewing website.
He acknowledged that the commission failed to notify Amazon Web Services of a technical issue that prevented the uploading of the presidential election results.
The INEC witness claimed during cross-examination by Tinubu’s attorney, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that pictures taken with the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, whether transmitted electronically or manually, do not compromise the election’s integrity, “especially when the results are announced to the hearing and knowledge of party agents.”
He affirmed that “the outcome of the February 25 presidential election is free, fair, transparent and in substantial compliance with the provisions of the law.”