The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied changing its electoral guidelines ahead of 2023 general election with particular references to transmission and collation of results.
INEC has assured Nigerians that the results of the 2023 general elections will be transmitted electronically.
It clarified that it has not jettisoned electronic transmission of results for manual process.
According to the Commission, the electronic transmission of results which entails uploading polling units-level results to a secure web portal has come to stay, adding that INEC will not deviate from the procedures it used in recent off-season state elections.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye disclosed this on Sunday in reaction to an earlier report which quoted him as saying that the commission will not use electronic collation in the general election.
While the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) provides for electronic transmission of results, however, like those before it, the law does not mandate the commission to collate results electronically.
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Urging Nigerians not to be carried away by screaming news headlines, the commission advised a careful reading of the law with respect to post-election procedures.
Okoye said; “The Independent National Electoral Commission’s INEC attention has been drawn to a misunderstanding arising from a recent short interview granted to a national newspaper on the procedure for result management during elections.
“Some have interpreted the explanation on result management procedure to mean that the Commission has jettisoned the electronic transmission of result and reverted to the manual process. This is not correct.
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“For clarity, the procedure for result transmission remains the same as in recent Governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States. There will be no change in all future elections, including the 2023 General Election.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that the electronic transmission of result has come to stay. It adds to the credibility and transparency of the process when citizens follow polling unit level results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal on real-time on Election Day. There will be no change or deviation in subsequent elections.
“The entire gamut of result management is provided for in Sections 60, 62 and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022. In line with the provision of the law, the Commission, in April this year, released a detailed clarification of the procedure for transmission, collation and declaration of result which was shared with all stakeholders and uploaded to our website.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Commission’s detailed explanation of the procedure and not reach a conclusion on the basis of media headlines.”
Section 60(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) states that; “The Presiding officer shall, after counting the votes at the polling unit, enter the votes scored by each candidate in a form to be prescribed by the Commission as the case may be”.
Flowing from that, INEC had on June 3 released its guidelines for the conduct of the 2023 general elections, adopting the e-transmission of election results and the manual collation method as prescribed in the Electoral Act.
Earlier, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), an independent civil society election observation body, had described as ‘worrisome’, reports of the decision by INEC to manually collate the results of the elections.
Chairman of the group, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, in a statement, had said: “TMG will like to note that this action holds grave potentials towards eroding the confidence of Nigerian voters, which has just only been recently inspired by the (Electoral) Act and its provisions, key of which is the electronic transmission process.
“It also disregards the efforts of the general public who have fought long and hard for improvements in our electoral process.”
He added: “TMG demands that the commission provides clarity on its recent pronouncement to assuage the suspicions of the electorate and rebuild their confidence to exercise their rights to vote.”
“INEC should further seek to ensure that whatever actions are taken forward in the run-up to the elections do not run in violation of the provisions of the Act.”