The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reacted to claim of the Senate of some areas in the country not having the technology for the electronic method of transmitting election results.
The bill for electoral amendment act was passed last week after All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators pushed through a version of the bill that constrains the electoral commission to seek permission from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly before making use of electronic voting in any part of the country.
Countering some of the claims made as the bill was passed, INEC’s commissioner for information and voter education, Festus Okoye maintained that the commission’s position was clear.
Okoye disclosed that INEC has in the past uploaded results from very remote areas, even from areas where you have to use human carriers to access.
“We have uploaded results from very remote areas, even from areas where you have to use human carriers to access.
“So we have made our own position very clear – that we have the capacity and will to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process.
“But our powers are given by the constitution and the law, and we will continue to remain within the ambit and confines of the power granted to the commission by the constitution and the law.”
Also speaking in an interview on Sunday Punch, Okoye said INEC was committed to deepening the use of technology in the electoral process and had many times demonstrated it through the creative, innovative and strategic deployment and application of technology in various aspects of the electoral process with the goal of limiting human interference in the electoral process as much as possible.
The INEC Commissioner also disclosed that a Joint Technical Committee constituted by the commission and the Nigerian Communications Commission and made up of telecommunication operators met on March 9, 2018, and the consensus was that the requirements for the electronic transfer of results proposed by INEC is practicable.
“INEC has the capacity to transmit election results from the polling units to the Registration Area Collation Centres to the Local Government Collation Centres, the various state, federal and senatorial district collation centres, and the state and national collation centres.
“The Joint Technical Committee constituted by the commission and the Nigerian Communications Commission and made of telecommunication operators met on March 9, 2018, and the consensus was that the requirements for the electronic transfer of results proposed by INEC is practicable. The meeting, therefore, agreed that the solution that INEC wants to deploy is possible.
“We have the assurance of the service providers that they have provided similar technological solutions to other agencies and have the capacity to deploy technology to cover a few blind spots.
“The commission will continue to pilot different solutions bearing in mind that technology is dynamic and can limit human interference in the electoral process. The commission wants broad powers to deploy technology and is not in favour of a particular solution being written into the law.
“The commission is a creation of the constitution and the law and its powers are derived from the constitution. The constitution has also given the National Assembly the power to make laws but such powers must not be in conflict with and or at variance with the provisions of the constitution.
“We will continue to implement the provisions of the Electoral Act to the extent of its consistency with the constitution, as the constitution is the fundamental law of the land. The commission will continue to build integrity and trust in the electoral process.
“The commission has piloted and continues to pilot various electronic solutions that will improve the integrity of the electoral process. Presently, all the registered political parties upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates electronically.”
Okoye also revealed that domestic election observers and the media applied for accreditation to observe and cover elections electronically and that henceforth, political parties would submit the names and photographs of their polling agents electronically.
“The commission uploads Form EC8A, being polling unit results to a central viewing portal. Since 2020, the commission has been uploading these results from different parts of the country.
“The commission has used and will continue to use the existing technology to upload the results from polling units. The commission has uploaded results from polling units in Southern Ijaw with its difficult riverine and difficult terrain. The commission uploaded results from areas that are only accessible through human carriers.
“The commission uploaded results from conflict areas. The commission uploaded results from all geopolitical zones. Presently, the commission has obtained the GPS coordinates of all the 176,846 polling units in the country and expanded voter access to the polling units.
“Currently, the commission is carrying out part of the continuous voter registration exercise online, while the physical registration of voters will be done using INEC Voter Enrolment Device that will capture the fingerprints and facials of registrants.”