Foremost Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), in Nigeria has commended the Senate for reconsidering its earlier decision to subject INEC’s powers to transmit election results electronically to the judgement of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and approval by the National Assembly.
According to the statement issued in Abuja: Wednesday, 13th October 2021, by eight CSOs, the revised Clause 52 passed by the Senate now empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to determine the mode of voting and transmission of election results without recourse to any external consideration. The Senate also reviewed its position on Clause 42 by empowering INEC to deploy ‘electronic voting devices’ in addition to other voting devices for the conduct of the elections. Other revisions included Clause 43 on ‘transfer’ of results by Presiding officers, and Clause 87 adopting direct primaries as the only mode of primary elections.
The Senate’s removal of the contentious clause on electronic transmission of election results which will promote more transparency in the collation of election results is a victory for democracy. It confirms and reinforces the value of citizens’ oversight on the electoral process. Undoubtedly, public access to election results in real-time will strengthen citizens’ oversight over the results collation process and minimise electoral fraud. More importantly, it will reduce the susceptibility of election results to manipulation and fraud. Political Parties and Candidates can now present data from electronically transmitted results in Court to challenge the outcome of elections.
While we commend the Senate for its decision, we call on the Conference Committee to, as a matter of urgency, conclude the process of “Harmonisation of the Bill” and ensure that the Harmonised Bill empowers INEC to deploy other technological devices beyond the Smart Card Reader for voter accreditation under Clause 49 in Electoral Bill 2021. Considering the proposed review in election timelines in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, we call on the National Assembly to ensure that the “Electoral Act Amendment Bill is transmitted to the President for assent before the end of October 2021.”
Undersigned CSOs are: Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society and Intertional Press Centre. Others are Nigeria Women’s Trust Fund, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and Yiaga Africa.