Ms Ijeoma Osamor, a broadcast journalist working with DAAR Communications Plc, appeared as a witness on Friday at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
Osamor, who hosts the program “Democracy Today” on Africa Independent Television (AIT), was subpoenaed as the 7th witness (PW 7) in support of Peter Obi and the Labour Party’s petition (LP). They are challenging the election that resulted in President Bola Tinubu’s assumption of power.
The respondents in the petition are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
During cross-examination by the APC counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, Osamor testified that INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had stated that the results of the February 25 presidential election would be transmitted live.
One of the grounds raised by the petitioners to challenge Bola Tinubu’s return as President was that Yakubu failed to fulfill his promise to upload the results sent to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal in real-time.
Video evidence presented before the PEPC by the petitioners showed clips of the INEC chairman assuring Nigerians about the use of technology in the presidential election.
The court admitted another flash drive as evidence and played a clip in which Yakubu emphasized the deployment of BVAS and IReV for the elections.
Owonikoko asked Osamor if she was aware that a few days before the election, Yakubu, in a press statement, stated that the results would no longer be uploaded in real-time. Osamor responded that her news organization focuses on live coverage and may not have been aware of such a statement.
Owonikoko referred to a publication by The Tribune on February 23, which stated that election results would not be transmitted in real-time. Osamor suggested that The Tribune’s report may have been based on an interview with Yakubu.
The Tribune had published an article with the headline “We Won’t Transmit Raw Figures of Election Results, INEC Chairman,” stating that Yakubu made the statement during a meeting with leaders of international election observers who visited him at the commission.
However, Osamor insisted that she attended all press briefings and was present at the collation center during that period, particularly on the said day, and claimed that Yakubu did not make such a statement.
The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned the session until Monday for the cross-examination of the witness and further hearing of the petition.