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Cablegate: Nigeria: Expert Testimony in Vote Stealing Sets

VZCZCXRO2452
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0121 0941453
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031453Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9839
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9560
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0126

UNCLAS LAGOS 000121

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W,

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: EXPERT TESTIMONY IN VOTE STEALING SETS
PRECEDENT


1. (SBU) Summary: Forensic evidence is providing new insights
into vote rigging during the April 2007 gubernatorial
election in Ekiti State. The state tribunal is the only
election court thus far to allow forensic evidence, setting a
precedent for the country. Visual aids especially are
educating attendees about vote rigging and how to trace it,
fostering accountability. The tribunal, though moving
slowly, has the trust of the people and the parties. End
Summary.

-----------------------------------------
Forensic Evidence of Vote Proves Powerful
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On March 12, PolOff and PolSpec observed the state
gubernatorial Election Tribunal in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of
Ekiti State. The tribunal is one of the first in the country
to permit forensic testimony as evidence of ballot tampering
and vote rigging. A British team lead by Adrian Fort, a
forensic expert on fingerprints and a consultant with
Scotland Yard, is testifying on vote stealing in Ekiti State
during the April 2007 gubernatorial elections. Fort
explained to PolOff and PolSpec that his team is using
fingerprint analysis, the details of which he had presented
in court the previous day using charts and other visual aids,
to trace the distribution of pre-completed ballot papers
across the state. Additionally, the team uses an
investigative model to track the movement of ballot book
numbers through the vote counting process. According to the
analysis by Fort's team, ballots from the same ballot book
were found in different parts of the state and fingerprint
analysis showed the same thumbprints on multiple ballots.
Fort sees his team's work in Nigeria as a rare opportunity to
help the Nigerian legal system improve in functionality and
sophistication. Fort said he and his team are providing
their services at a significant discount.

3. (SBU) During cross examination, the lawyer for People's
Democratic Party (PDP) Governor Segun Obi, was unsure of how
to handle Fort. He had difficulty in asking relevant
questions and did not appear to understand the evidence
presented or how to counter it in court. The audience, which
was evenly split between PDP and Action Congress (AC)
supporters, chuckled and snorted in response to the cross
examination of Fort. In contrast, the tribunal judges were
engaged throughout the testimony, keeping both the courtroom
and the lawyers on track.

--------------------------------------------- -
Legal Preparation Key to Introducing Forensics
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) AC gubernatorial candidate Kayode Fayemi, told
PolOff and PolSpec that the Ekiti tribunal allowed both
forensic expert testimony and evidence in court due to
forethought and planning in the early stages of the legal
challenge. In filing the original court paperwork in 2007,
Fayemi said his legal team included the forensic experts on
the witness list and specified what type of evidence they
would present, including visual aids and graphs. The
tribunal in Osun State, by comparison, barred forensic
experts from testifying because they weren't specifically
included in the initial documents, although lawyers for the
plaintiffs are considering an appeal.

5. (SBU) Fayemi expressed confidence in the tribunal process
and his legal team. He said that there are only five lawyers
in Nigeria considered tribunal experts, and noted that they
are highly sought after by defendants and plaintiffs alike.
Fayemi recalled that one of President Yar'Adua's lawyers is
on the Ondo State governor's defense team and his own lead
lawyer has been approached by Governor Oni in advance of his
preparations for an appeal to the Tribunal's ruling, should
it not be in Oni's favor.

6. (SBU) Comment: The unique use of both forensic expert
testimony and evidence, including visual aids in court, sets
a precedent for the country. The visual aids presented in
court not only attest to vote rigging, but also educate the
public in rigging methodology and ways to track such fraud.
It is possible that the next elections held in Ekiti State
will involve an electorate more alert to the methods of vote
stealing. End Comment.

7. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja.

BLAIR

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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