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I was not in Kogi during gov election – SDP’s star witness tells Tribunal



…Damages, discredits evidence under cross examination


. Says I didn’t operate BVAS machines during election


The star witness of the Social Democratic Party and its candidate in the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State, in a dramatic twist, on Monday, told the Election Petition Tribunal that he was not in Kogi State on the day of the election.


The star witness, who is a data analyst with the Independent National Electoral Commission,  said this as he completed his Evidence-In-Chief and was cross-examined after 11 long days of his testimony before the Tribunal.


The witness, Abdulmalik Njidda, had earlier testified to events that took place during the election in Kogi State, with regard to entries on the BVAS machines used for the election in Adavi, Ajaokuta, Okene, Okehi, Ogori Magongo and Lokoja Local Government Areas of the State.


However, drama ensued when, during cross examination by Counsel to the Governor of Kogi State, the APC and INEC, he turned around to say he was nowhere near Kogi State on the day of the election.


The INEC data analyst confirmed that he was posted to Imo State for the Governorship election, which held on the same day the election in Kogi State was held.


Specifically, the witness admitted that he was never at any of the polling units complained about on election day and in respect of whose BVAS machines he examined before theTribunal.


He said he was therefore not in a position to know or show how the BVAS machines were operated at those polling units.


In his further testimony under cross examination, the witness also admitted that as an INEC data analyst, he was never assigned any function on the day of the election in Kogi State, meaning that he had no reason to operate the BVAS machines he was brought to Court to prove its contents.


When further cross examined on the serial number of the BVAS machines that he was called to demonstrate in Court, the INEC data analyst said he did not know the serial number of the machines, adding that the BVAS machines he demonstrated in Court were not the entirety of the BVAS machines used for the election in Adavi, Ajaokuta, Okene, Okehi, Ogori Magongo and Lokoja Local Government Areas of Kogi State.


The witness could, however, visibly be seen trying to evade some of the questions put to him by the team of defence lawyers.


Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN represented INEC; Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, represented Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo and E.C. Ukala, SAN, represented APC.


In summary, the witness said he had no business with the election that took place in Kogi State, that it was the duty of the Presiding Officers to operate BVAS machines at any polling unit; to have the picture of Form EC8A on the respective BVAS used in their polling units and to transmit the result to IRev.


He noted that BVAS machines used for an election were meant to contain Form EC8A but that the BVAS machines he demonstrated in open court did not all have the picture of Form EC8A.


The witness added that he could not tell which ones had the picture of the Form EC8A used at the various polling units.


From what transpired at the Tribunal on Monday, the evidence of the INEC data analyst, who seems to be the main witness for the SDP and its candidate, appears to have been badly damaged.


Attempts by Counsel to the Petitioner, J.S.Okutepa, SAN, to repair the damaged witness through re-examination questions were objected to by the defence team and were overruled as the objections were well rooted in law.