INEC Resolves To Use Card Readers But No E-Transmission Of ResultsThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will use card readers during the 2019 general elections but ruled out the electronic transmission of results.
This is coming days after President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral Act amendment bill sent to him by the National Assembly.
However, INEC chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu said the commission would deploy card readers in every polling unit in the country just as it did in 2015.
Yakubu, who spoke during the public hearing on the menace of vote buying and improving the country’s electoral processes, said the commission had finished all preparations towards the use of the card reader.
The public hearing was organised by the joint National Assembly committee on electoral matters and political parties’ affairs jointly chaired by Sen Suleiman Nazif Gamawa (PDP, Bauchi) and Rep Aishatu Jibril Dukku (APC, Gombe) respectively.
However, the INEC chairman said the commission was yet to configure the card readers to match specific polling units, noting that INEC will do that in the coming weeks.
Responding to questions from some senators and stakeholders, Prof Yakubu said: “For those talking about whether INEC would use card reader during the 2019 elections or not, I want to assure that INEC will deploy card reader in every polling unit in the country.
“This is an assurance from the commission, and we are ever ready to do that, although we are yet to configure the card readers to match every polling unit.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, had while declaring the hearing open, urged INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible polls in 2019.
He urged INEC to improve on the good record it set during the 2015 elections, adding that vote buying is currently one of the most disturbing challenges of Nigeria’s political process.
The joint committee chairmen, Gamawa and Dukku noted that the public hearing was organised to give Nigerians an opportunity to suggest possible ways of tackling vote buying.
The leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, led by Senate President Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, with acting support of the leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) want the amended Electoral Act assented to so that other issues including electronic transmission of results would be backed by law and therefore mandatory.
It was gathered that the PDP leaders had at a recent meeting with other stakeholders in the electoral process expressed fears that besides the reasons given by President Muhammadu Buhari for not assenting to the Electoral Act amendment, the Presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) do not want the new electoral act for now simply because they have perfected plans to rig the 2019 elections.
But other sources said the Presidency and the APC had also uncovered plans by the PDP that once electronic transmission of results is approved, the opposition party, with active connivance with some foreign ICT experts would hack into INEC server and tamper with the results to its advantage.
Speaking on electronic transmission of results, the latest copy of the new Electoral Act rejected by President Buhari said: Section 63 (4) of the Principal Act is amended as follows:
“(4) Presiding Officer shall announce the result at the polling unit and transmit the same in the manner prescribed by the Commission”.
Amendment of section 63
Insert after section 65 of the Principal Act, a new section “65A” —
“65A. (1) The Commission shall compile, maintain and update, on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling results, including collated election results, of each election conducted by the Commission in the Federation, and the Register of Election Results shall be kept in electronic format by the Commission at its National Headquarters.
On the allegations that INEC website could be hacked in the event the 2019 election results would be announced electronically, the spokesman of INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said there would be no direct transmission, adding that the commission’s website is difficult to be compromised.
“We are putting every measure in place to ensure that the INEC website is not hacked. Learning from the experiences of others, our processes will not be based solely on technology.
“The manual processes that would serve as backup would also exist, would also be followed and would also be there; so there is nothing to fear.
“If it is the results, there is no result that will be announced without the authentication of the hard copy or the paper trail,” he said.
On the fears that results will be intercepted while being transmitted through the INEC server, he said, “INEC will not transmit the results through the website anyway, so if you hack the website you are wasting your time. We are not transmitting the results through the website at all.”