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Why INEC may still transmit results electronically

5 months ago | 189


Professor Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman.
NCC
ExxonMobil

Several weeks after the National Assembly had voted against the Electronic Transmission of election results, the practicability or otherwise of the issue has continued to be the subject of debate by Nigerians as stakeholders continue to urge the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to insist on the use of the device.

By Anthony Isibor.

THE passing of the bill against the electronic transmission of election results by the senate was intended to address the major cause of ambiguity in clause 53(3) of the act, which stated that the electoral body may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.

However, INEC has continued to insist that the main reason it had called for the adoption of electronic transmission of election result is to further eliminate all forms of electoral malpractices, especially rigging of the results.

 Prof. Anya O. Anya, a former director-general of the Nigeria Economic Summit, Group had during an interview with Realnews in August 2021, suggested that INEC could continue with transmitting the results electronically.

“Well, if I were in INEC, because in some of the things I am reading suggests, that they have already been using it. They used it in the Ondo election, used it in the Edo, and used it in the Ekiti election, so it is not new, if I were INEC, I will allow this people have their day, let them think they have won. Will they come to stop INEC from transmitting results; are they even intelligent enough to know how these technologies work,” he said.

“The good thing is, two things have come out. First, in 2017 INEC and the NCC sat down look at the whole question of using electronic transmission. And they looked at it and both agreed that it was possible. I'm talking about 2017, 4 years ago.

“This year NCC has even said that there is 89% coverage. There is no country, including the United States, Britain, Japan, and China where there is hundred percent coverage.

“And because Nigeria has passed the threshold of the people who will be using it, there is no excuse not to be using it because we have already passed the level where it ought to be and it is documented by NCC and has been announced by INEC,” he added.

Commenting on the issue, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, INEC director of publicity, said that there might be a theoretical transmission of election results electronically even though it is not embedded in the electoral laws.

Osaze-Uzzi, who disclosed this while appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday August 29, maintained that the electronic transmission of results is not immune to manipulation as it can also be manipulated by those whose aim is to undermine the results.

“Theoretically, in our elections, you can transmit the results electronically. But the law in Nigeria does not allow for that.

“If Nigerians want that to happen, then you can do that. But that does not mean it will not be susceptible to manipulation by people who are interested in manipulating the process,” he said.

He also explained that the most important part of an election process is the actual voting and direction of result.

“That is the building for the very foundation. If that is not right, others are not right. Even if INEC gets the collation wrong, which it should not, there is a process by which, for example it is challenged, it goes back to the commission," he added.

On his own part, Charles Aniagwu, Delta State Commissioner for Information, has insisted that electronic transmission of election results by INEC was achievable in 2023 since the Commission could verify Permanent Voters Card, PVC through electronic means.

Speaking when he received the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Asaba, he urged the Commission to ensure that electronic transmission of results from polling units in 2023 general elections and beyond was achieved.

He said: “Nothing would stop INEC from transmitting election results electronically, after being able to verify PVC by electronic means.

“Aniagwu said that most Nigerians were solidly behind INEC on the transmission of electoral results by electronic means and urged the commission to remain steadfast in achieving that target, adding that the innovations had greatly enhanced transparency and integrity of the electoral process.

He also pledged the continued collaboration of the state government with INEC in ensuring further sensitisation of eligible Deltans to participate in the ongoing voter registration.

The commissioner added that the “electronic transmission of results will enhance electoral integrity and so I must urge INEC to remain steadfast in ensuring that election results are transmitted electronically so that we can be at par with most developed climes”.

“If INEC is able to authenticate both the voter’s card and the card holder electronically, then I am confident that they can also transmit election results electronically too,” he said.

While commending the REC for the massive sensitisation on the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, in the state, he said: “We will continue to work with you and support you to ensure that more Deltans are registered into the voter register.

“Our collaboration is to ensure that you succeed in the very good intentions that you have set for yourselves to ensure electoral integrity. The importance of voting cannot be over-emphasized because beyond being a civic duty that citizens owe the nation, they have the opportunity to vote for leaders of their preference.

“When you don’t vote it means you have inadvertently contributed to bad governance. Once we have integrity in our electoral process then we would have reduced corruption in our country”.

The REC, Monday Udoh-Tom, who spoke earlier, explained that his team was in the ministry on an advocacy visit to the Commissioner on the CVR and commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for approving the use of state media outfits for sensitisation of eligible voters.

He said Delta was not lagging behind in the ongoing voter registration, adding that no fewer than 100,000 Deltans had registered in the last three weeks of the exercise.

He said: “We have come here to tell you to continue to send the message out to Deltans, who are 18 years and above to go and register. Those who have problems with their cards as well as those who want to transfer their voting points can avail themselves of the opportunity presented by the CVR.

“So far we are happy that Deltans have taken the opportunity seriously. In order to decongest the voting environment, INEC created additional 2,239 polling units in Delta, bringing the total to 5,863 polling units and we want people to register in those new polling units,’’ he added.

Again, Premium Times report of Wednesday, September 8, 2021 revealed that INEC and the National Assembly countered each other over the electronic transmission of election results.

This was as a result of the stance of the National Assembly mandating the commission to get the approval of the NCC for e-transmission of results, INEC explained that it does not owe the NCC such constitutional obligation.

“That is absolutely unconstitutional. You cannot ask INEC to seek the approval of another agency of government to transmit results electronically when actually INEC has power to impose duties on NCC to achieve electronic transmission of results.

“I completely agree that in the context of underscoring the independence of the commission, section 160 of the Constitution has done everything it needs to do. What is left is for INEC to use the power it has under the constitution to achieve its aim,” INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Electoral Operations and Logistic Committee, Okechukwu Ibeanu, said in Abuja.

And reacting to this issue, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has thrown its weight behind INEC that the election management body should not require approval of the NCC to transfer election results electronically.  The All Progressive Congress, APC, has also supported the decision of the National Assembly.

During the debate on section 52 (3) of the Electoral Amendment Act Bill, the National Assembly told Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of INEC to seek proper legal advice instead of misinforming Nigerians on the independence of INEC to conduct elections.  They also asked INEC to seek the approval of the NCC before going on with e-transmission of results.

Reacting, INEC insisted that section 160 of the 1999 Constitution already gave it the right to do so. According to INEC, the decision of the National Assembly to subject its constitutional power to conduct elections to the NCC was absolutely unconstitutional.

In addition, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Electoral Operations and Logistic Committee, explained that INEC has the constitutional mandate to impose duties on the NCC in order to achieve the electronic transmission of results.

“That is absolutely unconstitutional. You cannot ask INEC to seek the approval of another agency of government to transmit result electronically when actually INEC has the power to impose duties on the NCC to achieve electronic transmission of results.

“I completely agree that in the context of underscoring the independence of the commission, section 160 of the Constitution has done everything it needs to do. What is left is for INEC to use the power it has under the constitution to achieve its aim,” he said.

He also spoke on the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for November 6, saying, “In the next few days, the commission will compile the register of new voters and publish same throughout the state for claims and objections.”

On the independence of INEC to transmit results electronically, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, stated that it would be proper for the chairman (of INEC to seek proper legal advice on the interpretation of item 22 and Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution.

“INEC, in implementing the law, becomes independent pursuant to the constitutional provision. He (INEC chairman) should not muddle the independence of INEC with that of its agency’s operations, as to the legislative competence of the National Assembly to stipulate framework for elections.

“The INEC chairman does not seem to know the position of the law as to the constitutional power of INEC vis a vis the National Assembly from what he said. I will advise him to seek proper legal advice,” Basiru said.

Reacting to the development, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, aligned itself with INEC’s position that the election management body does not require approval of the NCC to transfer election results electronically, while the APC seems to have taken a neutral position on the matter.

“The law establishing INEC gives it powers to set the template for the smooth conduct of elections; it was the same law it used to introduce the card reader which has improved our electoral system,” Kola Ologbondiyan, national publicity secretary of the PDP, said.

And for Senator John Akpanudoede, APC National Secretary, INEC is the regulator of political parties, the parties can’t tell it what to do.

“The APC, as you know, is a law-abiding party; we are always guided by the provisions of the law,” he said.

- Sept. 11, 2021 @ 18:10 GMT |

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