Civil Society Organisations at the forefront of the drive for electoral reform has lauded the Nigerian Senate for empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of transmission of election results.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the groups commend the Nigerian 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.
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 Groups consisting of Yiaga Africa, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society, International Press Centre, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Nigeria Women’s Trust Fund, Albino Foundation and Centre for Citizens with Disability said, electronic transmission of election results will ensure public access to election results in real-time and this will strengthen citizens’ oversight over the results collation process and minimise the 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”, the statement read.
“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.”