Over the last few days, a lot of controversies have been generated by the Media over statements made in Court by Yunus Usman (SAN), the lead counsel of the team representing INEC at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) hearing the petition of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) against the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the 2019 presidential elections.
Mr Usman’s statements were made in response to the application by the PDP to inspect the servers it claims was used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit results. The PDP claims these results show an Atiku victory at the poll and an inspection of the servers will provide the evidence required to substantiate this claim.
For some reason, Mr Usman’s (SAN) statements have been interpreted in the media and other areas of social commentary to mean that INEC says it has no servers. And the response to this piece of information has been outright bedlam.
For the sake of clarity, it is important to replay the incidents that took place. It all started with a witness statement on oath by the petitioners which refers to information from a specific server alleged to belong to INEC. The server is identified by a Physical/Mac Address 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9, a Mac Address being the unique identifier of hardware such as a server, and running on Microsoft Product ID 00252-7000000000-AA535 which is claimed to be exclusive to INEC.
Screenshots of figures said to result from the 2019 presidential elections obtained by www.factsdontlieng.com from the same server were widely shared on the social media and form part of the petitioners’ statement before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. The petitioners then applied for leave of the Tribunal to compel INEC to allow it to inspect the said server. The application is for access to a specific server.
Speaking on behalf of INEC, Mr Usman (SAN) responds that the server referred to by the Atiku/PDP team neither exists nor belongs to INEC, as a result of which INEC cannot accede to the application to inspect the server. In a nutshell, INEC cannot accede to an application to inspect equipment it does not have.
This is what has been interpreted in the public domain to mean INEC has stated that it does not have a server. And the other spinoffs that have emanated from that particular narrative.
The thing is this misinterpretation serves no one any good. And it is important to clarify this. Whether INEC indeed owns this server now becomes a matter of adducing evidence. And that remains to be seen.