Festus Okoye, Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, has said that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) lacks the power to dictate to the electoral body on matters relating to electronic transmission of election results.
Okoye on Channels Television on Monday maintained that INEC derives the bulk of its powers from the constitution, stressing that section 78 and section 118 of the constitution defines the powers of the commission in relation to organising, undertaking and supervising elections, including voters’ registration.
“Our position is that nobody can dilute or take away the powers of INEC in relation to some of the issues that I have enumerated, without tampering with the constitution. NCC is not a body created by the constitution, INEC on the other hand is a body created by the constitution.
“Section 160 of the constitution says that INEC can impose duties on the NCC, in other words, we can ask the NCC to go and do A, B or C. Constitutionally, NCC cannot ask INEC to organise, undertake or supervise elections. So, we are the ones who can impose duties on them and not the other way round,” Okoye said.
While stressing the fact that the commission has the capacity to collate election results electronically, the chairman, information and voters education, said, “We have engaged in strategic partnership with all agencies of the government that we believe have a role to play in the electoral process and that was why in 2018 we went into partnership with them in relation with transmission of election results. In that document we talked about the memorandum of understanding and the conclusions arrived at after our meeting with them was that 93 percent of all the polling units of INEC as at 2018 were covered by the major networks.
“In that meeting all the major mobile network providers were in attendance. The issue as far as the commission is concerned is not even about electronic transmission of election results because section 52 of the Electoral Act gave INEC the power to determine the mode of elections. In the case of determining the mode of election we can even introduce electronic voting machines. The issue revolves around the provision of the Electoral Act that prescribes the step by step procedure for the collation of results and the step by step procedures as stated in the Electoral Act is manual,” he said.
Okoye stated that the act stipulates that when an election is held, the electoral officer should sort the votes, count the votes and enter the scores of the candidates of the political parties into a form.
“He will sign that particular form and the polling agents of the parties if available will also sign and copies will be given to them and the security agencies. He will go to the next collation centre which is the Registration Area (RA) collation centre, where the same result will be entered into form ECA and also collated manually.
“It is that manual collation that is the challenge. Even if we transmit result we cannot use that result for purposes of collation and if you cannot use transmitted result for purposes of collation, the indication is that it is of no legal efficacy. We want a situation where those impediments in the Electoral Act that make collation of results manual to be removed so that we can collate electronically and also announce results electronically,” he said.