Over 70 groups under the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room wants the National Assembly to, as a matter of national interest, allow the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to determine the mode of conduct of elections, including transmission of results.
A statement signed by its convener, Mrs. Ene Obi, urges the harmonisation committee to accept the version of the Electoral Bill that would allow INEC transmit election results electronically, says it became necessary as Nigerians have expressed their expectations for an Electoral Act, 2021, that will endure personal, partisan and primordial considerations, notwithstanding the landmark proposals in the ongoing review process.
“civil society partners and key stakeholders have identified about 17 points of divergence in the versions of the Elections Act Amendment Bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. She said.
“Among which are the use of Smart Card Readers; the deployment of electronic voting, collation and transmission of results; the cost of campaigns as well as the process of nomination of candidates”.
“INEC has shown by its practice and experience that it has adequate capacity to use technology in elections including the transmission of results, this experience has been proven during several off-cycle elections in recent times. Indeed, INEC has expanded its use of technology, including using the Z-pad and the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System BVAS”.
Also speaking, the Program Director YIAGA Africa Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, highlighted key recommendations of the Situation Room, urging the Harmonisation Committee to adopt the Senate version of Clause 43, which recognized ‘voting devices’ alongside election materials.
“We want the Senate to adopt the version of Clause 49, which recognizes ‘other technological devices’ alongside ‘Smart Card Readers’ for voter accreditation and INEC should be given the power to deploy an effective and efficient technological device for accrediting voters during elections”.
“For example, INEC tested the new Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during the Isoko South 1 Constituency bye-election into Delta State House of Assembly and plans to deploy same in subsequent elections”.
“Adopt the Senate Version of Clauses 63 and 76 which increases the penalty for sanctioning a presiding officer who contravenes the Electoral Act concerning the proper counting of accounting for votes and the announcement of results”.
“We believe that sanctions should place high retributive demand financial or otherwvise on the offender, in order to discourage electoral offences as well as Adopt the Senate version of clause 87, which gives political parties the option to adopt either direct or indirect primaries”.
Reporting by Julian Osamoto, editing by Daniel Adejo