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E-Voting Not Yet Feasible — INEC

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INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu

The National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said electronic voting systems could only be introduced into the nation’s electoral process when the nation was sure of the appropriate technologies, provide infrastructure, to address cyber security, among other challenges.

According to INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the country was not there yet. He was however confident that his agency could achieve electronic collation of results (e-collation) and electronic transmission of results (e-transmission) during the next election circle in 2023.

Mahmood spoke in Abuja on Monday at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) stakeholders’ forum on elections. NCSSR is a coalition of civil society organisations, led by Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

The INEC Chairmen, Deputy Senate President, Snetor Ovie Omo-Agege and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami were unanimous on the need to review the nation’s Electoral Act before the next election season and particularly, the importance of creating the much-requested Electoral Offences Commission.

Represented by Festus Okoye (an INEC National Commissioner), Mahmood stressed the need for any review of the Electoral Act to further strengthen his agency’s regulatory capacity and independence.

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He said: “The commission (INEC) must be the major driver in the introduction of new technologies in our electoral process.

“Electronic voting systems are dynamic and the appropriate time for the introduction of each aspect must be clearly thought out taking into consideration the appropriate technology, the state of infrastructure in the different parts of the country, environmental issues, cyber security matters, procurement challenges, the level of literacy in the country and other sundry matters.

“We believe that Electronic Collation of Results (E-Collation) and Transmission of Results (E-Transmission) are possible and achievable in the 2023 election. The Commission will continue to improve the electoral system through the adoption of new election technologies where feasible and relevant, and will, in all cases, examine the viability and relevance of such technologies before adoption.

“Towards these, the legal framework for the adoption of such technologies would be the first most important step before any other steps. We acknowledge the introduction of a bill to establish an Election Offences Commission and Tribunal and state unequivocally that we support it.

“Our country must break the cycle of impunity in the electoral process and bring to justice the violators of the sovereign right of the people to clean elections.

We urge you to critically examine aspects of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) that will strengthen the electoral legal framework and enhance the power of the vote.

“It is also important to emphasis the collective nature of electoral reform, and draw attention to the fact that electoral reforms should not end at the level of retooling the legal framework, but should also extend to attitudinal issues bordering on curbing impunity and the development of a culture of tolerance and sportsmanship.

“The commission will remain transparent and accountable in its dealings with the Nigerian people and will continue to consult with critical stakeholders on major policy issues and issues around its regulations, guidelines and manuals.

“However, the commission will not share its constitutionally and legally guaranteed regulatory powers with any individual, Political Party, groups or organizations. Rather, the commission will approach the National Assembly with new proposals to further enhance its regulatory powers and the provision of clarity on grey areas that have been exploited to whittle down its powers.

To this end, the commission will propose the review of the provision to section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended). The commission is a creation of the Constitution and is duty bound to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).

“The commission will be shirking its constitutional and regulatory powers if it cannot enforce the qualifying threshold in section 177 and 187 of the Constitution and other equivalent provisions.

“The implication is that the Commission can close its eyes to the nomination of non-Nigerians and infants by Political Parties to contest Governorship and other elections. The commission will robustly and expansively implement and interpret its powers within the compass of constitutionally allowed window.

“The commission will also make proposals that will clarify and strengthen its powers in relation to declaration and returns by Collation and Returning Officers. Declarations and Returns must be made voluntarily and not through duress and other unwholesome practices.

“To this extent, the commission must retain the discretion to take urgent and remedial actions in clear cases of the violation of its regulations and guidelines in the conduct of elections.

“The commission is irrevocably committed to the enhancement of the power of the Smart Card Reader as the dominant procedure for verification, accreditation and proving over voting in the electoral process.

“The commission will therefore seek the incorporation of the Smart Card Reader in section 49 of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended). The individuals holding the Permanent Voters Cards must be the ones voting and not the cards.

“The Smart Card Reader is now part of our national asset and the Commission will not allow any individual or groups to undermine it. Rather, the Commission will guard it jealously and make for its robust usage,” the INEC Chair said.

Omo-Agege said the National Assembly has heeded calls, particularly from the Judiciary, via it many pronouncements for amendments to the Electoral Act.

“It is for these reasons and much more that we are coming up with very clear provisions amending the principal Act to give unambiguous effect to Electoral Guidelines, Regulations and Manuals duly issued by the Commission in strict compliance with section 160 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Pervasive non-compliance with the Guidelines, Regulations and Manuals will carry clear consequences for people, who think violating electoral due process is a rewarding exercise,” Omo-Agege said.

He identified the many amendments being proposed to include: “focusing on resolving issues surrounding INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into our electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters.; ensuring that the Act clearly forbids members of political parties from taking up employment in INEC; and mandating INEC to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that lost its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.”

Also being planned is the provision “defining ‘over voting’ to include situations where ‘total votes cast’ also exceed ‘total number of accredited voters’ and “overhauling Section 87 on Nomination of Candidates by Parties for Elections by prescribing maximum fees payable by aspirants and restricting nomination criteria strictly to relevant provisions of the Constitution.”

Malami noted that elections in the country have “become much more contentious than ever before,” a development he attributed to “the desire to win election at all cost as well as weak electoral structures that are not accountable to voters at all levels of governance”.

Represented by the Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Justice Sector Reform, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, Malami argued that it was” imperative that our electoral laws are reformed to ensure the efficient and legitimate conduct of elections in Nigeria, as the credibility of elections impacts our global outlook and eventually lead to economic growth, shared prosperity and a secured nation.

“In line with this, the administration is committed to tackling the issue of electoral fraud and violence and supports the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kelvin Agbogidi

    December 10, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Is not feasible because you want to rig another election for your oga at the top

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Inside Nigeria

Amotekun: A Battle Won Against FG — Afenifere

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A factional Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere on Tuesday described Amotekun Security outfit as a battle won against the ‘imperial’ Federal Government by the strong will of West and freedom-loving friends across Nigeria.

Besides,the group in a communique after its regular meeting held in Sure, the Ondo state capital expressed disgust with the Nigerian Police Force(NPF) that almost seven months after the murder of its Leader’s daughter,Late Funke Olakunrin, the police has stopped any form of investigation into the dastardly act without any briefing to the family.

It said” We are left with no option at this stage than to conclude that she was a victim of political assassination necessitating state cover-up.

Afenifere challenged the police to do its job on the matter in spite of their disappointment with them.

The group also invoked her spirit to remain restless until the killers and masterminds of her death are exposed and brought before the temple of Justice.

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The meeting noted that but for the depth of despair unitary rule has sunk Nigeria, States having security guards should not have been any issue as the 1999 constitution recognizes the right of state to protect lives and property and “State” does not mean only Federal Government but states and Local Governments.

According to the communique, only carpenters posing as lawyers would ever say that security is on any exclusive list as there is no law that stops individuals from securing their premises talk less of state actors.

“The jejune argument by spokesmen of our tormentors that the Federal Government has failed to protect us against, that having a security outfit that cuts across states is unacceptable was seen as a non-sequitur as Yoruba are a homogenous group once under a region before Nigeria broke into states”.

The group pointed out that Yoruba would find it hard to oppose Amotekun in any other part of Nigeria if it owns Hisbah, Lafiya Dole and harbors Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah that are tormenting the country and making President Trump to consider placing Nigeria on travel ban.

It rejected any attempt to subsume Amotekun under the Community Policing scheme of the Federal Government which the group claimed was just being informants to the Nigerian police.

Afenifere maintained that Amotekun should be independent in carrying out the security of residents of South West with defined operational cooperation with the police but not its subordinate.

“While Amotekun has now come to stay there must be no let or hindrance in the pursuit of a federal Nigeria so we can revert to the multi-level policing status of Nigeria of the past which saw the Nigerian Railway corporation having its own police.

“In this regard, we are happy with the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan declaration of support for issues in Federalism especially multi-level policing and we enjoin the National Assembly to see it as the urgent business of now”

The group hailed the South West Governors for standing firm on Yoruba consensus on Amotekun without blinking.

It equally appreciated other groups such as Ohaneze, PANDEF and Middle Belt Forum for standing solidly with the project as well as Prof Wole Soyinka,Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Prof Itse Sagay(SAN), Femi Falana, and others.

The communique also condemned in the strongest terms the lawlessness in Oyo State over local council dissolution.

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Inside Nigeria

Security In Nigeria Has Deteriorated — Senate President, Ahmed Lawan

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The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has raised an alarm over the insecurity witnessed across the country which has led to loss of lives and properties.

Speaking at Tuesday’s plenary at the Senate chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, Lawan reiterated the need for lives and properties to be secured in the country as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

He said: “My distinguished colleagues, the security situation in our country requires serious attention and due consideration by the Senate and indeed the National Assembly.

“Recently, the security in the country has deteriorated and the attendant loss of lives is not acceptable.

“We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our Constitution. We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation.”

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In his welcome speech after the lawmakers resumed from their six-week recess, the Senate President disclosed that they are working to engage the Federal Government on the implementation of the nation’s security strategy.

He added that they will also be working towards implementation of community policing and will also be inviting police authorities to give periodic updates.

He said: “There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems. Equally important is citizen participation, and collaboration in providing security.”

“In this regard, the Senate will engage the Executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy (NSS) 2019.”

On Power he said: “My distinguished colleagues, it is an incontrovertible fact that the power sector cannot function optimally and thrive under the current circumstances.

“The anticipated outcome of improvement in effectiveness and efficiency of the privatisation process has not been achieved and doesn’t look feasible. Therefore, we have to take all the necessary steps to salvage this indispensable sector.

“The ensuing debate on the report of the Roundtable Discussions will no doubt reveal the actions that the Federal Government will need to take.”

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Inside Nigeria

BREAKING: Senate To Debate Rising Insecurity Wednesday

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Ahmad Lawan

The Senate on Tuesday exclusively dedicated Wednesday to debate the worsening security situation across the country.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan disclosed this after a closed-door session of the Senate on Tuesday.

Lawan said that the Senate also resolved to prioritise the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Power sector reforms to provide energy to Nigeria, agricultural enhancement across Nigeria, Electoral Act Amendment Bill and legislations to boost solid minerals development.

Details shortly….

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