INEC Approaches NASS On Electronic Voting, Card Reader





The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it is approaching the National Assembly for possible amendment of the Electoral Act to give room for electronic voting.


LEADERSHIP reports that the Senate has commenced the process of the amendment of the Electoral Act, 2004 through a bill sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, seeking to provide a window for electronic voting and transmission of results.


But INEC also said it will seek the National Assembly’s empowerment for the continued use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in future elections insisting that the innovation in the electoral system has come to stay.


The commission said it is worried about the increasing level of violence during elections adding that the presidential and the gubernatorial elections now face brazen acts of impunity which called for innovation on future conduct.


Speaking at the last regular meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in the 36 states and the FCT, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said they support the establishment of the electoral offences commission because of the rising cases of violence.


“The commission is deeply concerned that elections in Nigeria, especially for executive positions, are increasingly characterised by brazen acts of impunity. The Commission plans for all elections to be successfully concluded and for the will of the people to prevail,” Yakubu said of the presidential and the gubernatorial elections.



Yakubu who said it was inconceivable that INEC will make elaborate arrangement for the deployment of personnel and materials and then turn around to undermine itself in the field on election day, adding that impunity has become the bane of Nigeria’s elections.


“The best antidote to impunity is the enforcement of sanctions under our laws without fear or favour. Where offenders are not punished, bad behaviour is encouraged,” Yakubu said insisting that it was the reason INEC would continue to work with the National Assembly and all stakeholders for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal recommended by the Uwais Committee on Electoral Reform (2008), the Lemu Committee on post-election violence (2011) and, most recently, the Ken Nnamani Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform (2017).


“At the moment, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders. We have drawn public attention to our constraint in this regard. We have no capacity to arrest offenders and conduct investigation without which successful prosecution is impossible,” Yakubu said adding that even though the commission has worked closely with the Nigeria Police, prosecuting electoral offenders has been slow.


“Since 2015, we have received a total of 149 case files, including 16 cases arising from the 2019 general election. The cases are prosecuted in the states where the alleged offences were committed. Unlike pre-election and post-election cases, there is no timeframe for the prosecution of electoral offenders. A case may go on for several years. Some of the cases were dismissed for want of diligent prosecution while in some states the Attorney General entered nolle prosequi to get the alleged offenders off the hook,” he said.


He noted that even where the Commission recorded the most successful prosecution of electoral offenders following the violence witnessed in the Minjibir State Assembly bye-election in Kano State in 2016, it is unclear how many of the 40 offenders sentenced to prison with the option of fine actually spent time in jail.


“The fine was paid presumably by their sponsors. That is why we believe that the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal will dispense justice dispassionately and speedily in the same way that the Electoral Court deals with violators in other countries such as South Africa. We also hope that the security agencies will get to the root of all violations and support the Commission to prosecute not just the thugs that terrorise voters and INEC officials, snatch election materials at polling units and collation centres but their sponsors as well,” Yakubu added.


Arising from the 2019 general election, INEC said a total of 807 post-election petitions were filed at the tribunals adding that out of the figure, 582 were dismissed with183 withdrawn by the petitioners while 30 were for re-run election and 12 for issuance of certificates of return.


“This means that the Commission is required by order of the tribunals to conduct re-run elections in 30 constituencies across 12 States of the Federation involving 2 Senatorial Districts out of 109, 13 Federal Constituencies out of 360 and 15 State Constituencies out of 991.”


“In a majority of cases, elections are to be re-run in just a few polling units, some of them in only one polling unit in the entire constituency.


“You will recall that elections were held in 1,558 constituencies nationwide in the 2019 General Election. The 30 constituencies into which rerun elections will be conducted represent 1.92% (approximately 2%) of the total number of constituencies,” he said.


On one of the critical areas the commission will engage the National Assembly, according to Yakubu, is the status of the Smart Card Reader (SCR).


“Let me reiterate that the SCR has come to stay. It cannot be jettisoned or abandoned. Rather, the commission will seek ways by which its utility in elections can be enhanced for the triple objectives of verification of the genuineness of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), confirmation of ownership and fingerprint authentication of voters. The status of the SCR must be provided for and protected by law.


“Similarly, accreditation data from the SCR should be used to determine over-voting and the margin of lead principle. The judgement of the Supreme Court on the primacy of the voters’ register as the determinant of over-voting in law merely draws attention to the lacuna in the electoral legal framework which must be addressed through immediate and appropriate amendment to the Electoral Act. The Commission will present a proposal to the National Assembly on this matter as well as other areas in which further deployment of technology will deepen the integrity of our electoral process,” Yakubu added.


INEC Approaches NASS On Electronic Voting, Card Reader INEC Approaches NASS On Electronic Voting, Card Reader Reviewed by JNJ GLOBAL GIST on December 04, 2019 Rating: 5

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