INEC official appeared as a star witness before the Osun State governorship election petition tribunal.
The Deputy Director in the ICT department of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abimbola Oladunjoye, on Wednesday said there was “seemingly over-voting” in some polling units during the July 16 governorship election in Osun State.
Mrs Oladunjoye gave this testimony when she appeared as a star witness before the tribunal hearing the petition by former governor Gboyega Oyetola.
She cited some figures that contradict the recorded numbers of accredited voters in the BVAS report in possession of the petitioners.
The figures in the witness statement are higher than those in the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) report used in cross-examining her by Akin Olujimi, counsel to Mr Oyetola.
This indicated that there was over-voting in some polling units during the poll. Over-voting means the recorded votes were in excess of accredited voters.
Under cross-examination by Mr Olujimi, the INEC official said there was “seemingly” over-voting of 75 in a particular polling unit in Ede South LGA.
“Based on BVR12179 and my witness statement, there is seemingly over-voting of 75,” she said.
Mrs Oladunjoye, who took part in the election as LGA technical supervisor, also said there was another “seemingly” over-voting of 37 votes in other polling units in the same LGA.
“There is a seemingly over-voting of 37 votes. Accreditation is 830,” she added.
The election official also stated that contrary to her witness statement, there was another over-voting of 139 votes in yet another polling unit.
“Accreditation figure, I have 402 in my witness statement and on exhibits 12179, I have 263, that is over-voting of 139,” she said.
“In my witness statement, I have 448 and on the BVR12179, I have 224. There are seemingly over-votings of 224,” she said about another unit.
Explaining why there were “seemingly over-votings,” Mrs Oladunjoye said when the petitioners requested the BVAS accreditation data from INEC, the data of the BVAS machines had not been synchronised.
She said INEC was compelled to issue the “incomplete” data to the petitioners because it was bound by the Freedom of Information Act and the Electoral Act to respond to their requests within a given period of time.
“We got a letter from a law firm, I cannot remember the name of the law firm. The firm was requesting BVAS accreditation data and because we had a limited time to issue the letter and also FOI Act was binding on us and also the electoral law stating that we must release data between 10 days, we had to issue what we had as at that time. That was what we had at the back end,” she said.
She said the “incomplete” data issued to the petitioners were issued on 27 August when synchronisation was still ongoing.
“The report was issued on 27th of August when synchronisation was ongoing. According to guidelines, the total accreditation figure is taken from the physical BVAS machine and written on the EC8A,” she claimed.
Mrs Oladunjoye, however, clarified what she meant by “seemingly over-voting” when she was recross-examined by the counsel to INEC, Paul Ananaba.
“Why I used the word seemingly over-voting is because any comparison that should take place should be between the EC8A and the physical BVAS machine,” she said.
The chairman of the tribunal, Terse Kume, subsequently adjourned the case till Thursday for the continuation of the hearing.