The era of manual transmission of election results is gone for good, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said. INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, clarified the position in a statement in Abuja.
In the statement titled: “Clarification on Electronic Transmission of Election Result,” Okoye said that electronic transmission of results would be deployed for the 2023 general elections.
He said the clarification became necessary following a misunderstanding of his position on the procedure for result management during elections.
Okoye said some people had interpreted the explanation to mean that the commission had jettisoned the electronic transmission of results and reverted to the manual process.
The INEC spokesman said: “This is not correct. For clarity, the procedure for result transmission remains the same as in recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states. There will be no change in all future elections, including the 2023 general elections.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that the electronic transmission of results has come to stay.
“It adds to the credibility and transparency of the process when citizens follow polling unit level results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal in real-time on Election Day.
“There will be no change or deviation in subsequent elections.”
The National Assembly passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and approved the electronic transmission of results last November 9.
Okoye said INEC was determined to now adopt an electronic system for the conduct of future elections.
He said: “Sections 60, 62 and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022 have provided for election results management”.
He said in line with the provision of the law, the commission, in April, released a detailed clarification of the procedure for transmission, collation and declaration of results which was shared with all stakeholders and uploaded on the INEC website.
Okoye appealed to all Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the commission’s detailed explanation of the procedure and not reach a conclusion based on media headlines.
No fewer than 70 civil society groups had called for electronic transmission of election results ahead of the constitution review.
The groups include Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV) and Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).
Others are Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD).
The CSOs, in a statement by its convener, Mrs. Ene Obi, urged the harmonisation committee to accept the version of the Electoral Bill that would allow INEC to transmit election results electronically.
It said: “As the National Assembly Harmonisation Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives sets for its conference on the Electoral Bill harmonisation, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and the EU-SDGN implementing partners call for a dispassionate, selfless decision-making process during the harmonisation.
“Nigerians have expressed their expectations for an Electoral Act, 2021, that will endure personal, partisan and primordial considerations.
“Notwithstanding the landmark proposals in the ongoing review process, civil society partners and key stakeholders have identified about 17 points of divergence in the versions of the Elections Act Amendment Bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“Among them are the use of Smart Card Readers; the deployment of electronic voting, collation and transmission of results; the cost of campaigns and the process of nomination of candidates etc.
“We are concerned by these identified differences in the proposals, particularly regarding electronic transmission of results and the deployment of technological devices in the conduct of elections.
“Following from our experience and observations of elections in recent years, as well as widely held views of Nigerians, we expect the harmonisation committee to accept the version of the Electoral Bill that allows INEC to determine the mode of conduct of elections, including the transmission of results.
“INEC has shown by its practice and experience that it has adequate capacity to use technology in elections including in the transmission of results.
“This experience has been proven during several off-cycle elections in recent years. Indeed, INEC has expanded its use of technology, including using the Z-pad and now, its newest innovation, the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
“We would also like to point out that the version of the bill that stipulates the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recommendation and National Assembly approval before election results can be transmitted electronically, presents a constitutional breach that may result in long-drawn litigations and uncertainty which could put INEC’s preparations for elections in jeopardy.”
The Situation Room urged the Harmonisation Committee to adopt the Senate version of Clause 43, which it said recognised ‘voting devices’ alongside election materials.
“This is because the Senate inserted the words ‘and voting devices’ immediately after election materials.
“INEC should be given the power to deploy an effective and efficient technological device for accrediting voters during elections.
“For example, INEC tested the new Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during the Isoko South 1 Constituency by-election into Delta State House of Assembly and plans to deploy same in subsequent elections.
“Adopt the House of Representatives Version of Clause 52, which gives INEC the power to determine the procedure for voting and transmission of election results.
“The power to determine the procedure for transmission of results should be vested with INEC without interference from any individual or government agency. This position safeguards INEC’s independence.
“Adopt the Senate Version of Clauses 63 and 76 which increases the penalty for sanctioning a presiding officer who contravenes the Electoral Act concerning the proper counting of accounting for votes and the announcement of results.