Since the closing of polling booths on
Saturday, February 25
, there have been accusations and counter-accusations by opposing political parties about the legality of manually transmitting election results to the national collation centre.
This was accentuated by former President
Olusegun Obasanjo’s call
on INEC and President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the collation process to investigate the claims of opposition parties to clear voters’ doubts and ensure credibility.
The Federal Minister of State for Labour and Employment, an APC chieftain, who is a lawyer by profession, Festus Keyamo, had said it was the prerogative of the INEC to use whatever mode of transmission it chose.
Debunking the claim, legal practitioner and lecturer at Baze University, Abuja, Dr. Sam Amadi, said Keyamo had a wrong interpretation of the provision of the Electoral Act. He said Section 60 Subsection 5 of the Electoral Act states that
“the presiding officer shall transfer the results, including the total number of accredited voters and the result of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the commission.”
He said it was on the back of this provision in Nigeria’s Electoral Act that the Independent National Electoral Commission introduced the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology to the country.
He said the majority of Nigerians expected that INEC was going to conduct the 2023 elections in compliance with both the Electoral Act and its guidelines, which included the use of the BVAS.
What this means:
The implication is that while the INEC is at liberty to choose its mode of transmission, that mode must be consistent with what the commission says it would use, which is common to all political parties.
In the case of the 2023 elections, the INEC had long adopted the BVAS to transmit the results directly to the national collation center. The idea was to bypass the wards and local government areas where it had been perceived, rigging usually takes place.
That departure from the card reader system and its bureaucracy was an assurance to political parties and voters that their votes would count.
With the failure of the BVAS four days after the election exercise, some political parties are saying that the purpose has been defeated. The old system has been brought back, which leaves the old-style rigging.