The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the National Assembly to revisit the Electoral Act amendment bill, assuring that it has the capacity and technical knowhow to undertake electronic transmission of election results throughout the country. INEC declared that it was not subordinate to the National Communication Commission (NCC) or answerable to any government agency.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, insisted that the electronic transmission of results real time was the best guarantee of transparency.
Speaking in a television programme monitored in Abuja on Monday, Okoye said INEC was determined to use electronic devices to improve Nigeria’s electoral process, and deliver free, fair and credible elections. Okoye said for such to become a reality, the National Assembly must show courage by amending the relevant sections of the Electoral Act.
He said, “Although INEC is increasingly tilting towards the use of technology to deliver a free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, we want the National Assembly to amend the law, which prescribed the method elections are being conducted at the moment.”
Okoye admitted that INEC was still using the manual method, as enshrined in the Electoral Act, by collating election results from the Polling Units (PU), using Form EC8A, and Registration Area Collation Centre (RACC), with Form EC8B up to local government areas, and using Form EC8C to collate results, which are computed manually before announcement.
Okoye maintained that INEC had perfected the use of technology to conduct elections starting from the 2023 general election.
He stated, “For us to alter the methodology, the Electoral Act must be changed to accommodate the new innovations. We want National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to enable INEC deliver a more transparent, fair and credible elections that will meet the aspirations of Nigerians. They should also look at 51, 52, 53 and 57 of the Electoral Act.
“We are already uploading election results electronically but we will need the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to be amended to avoid litigations, because INEC doesn’t want our election winners to be determined by the law courts.”
Okoye said the commission was not answerable to NCC or any other federal government organ in carrying out its constitutional duties, saying INEC has inherent powers to conduct elections.
He said, “Nobody can bully INEC to share its powers given by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria of Nigeria. Section 160 of Nigerian constitution mandates INEC to give NCC duties to perform, not NCC giving INEC orders.
“Also, Section 52 of Electoral Act gives INEC inherent powers to conduct elections in any manner it wants, including e-voting. Again, the 2015 Electoral Act (as amended), which was signed by the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has given INEC unfettered powers to conduct elections in the best method available.”
He insisted that the present method of manual collation of election results from PU, RACC and LGA should be done away with, adding, “With the introduction of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and other devices by INEC, elections in Nigeria can only get better, hence, National Assembly should join in deepening Nigeria’s democracy.”