The Independent National Electoral Commission is currently under severe pressure not to include the display of election results at polling units and the electronic transmission of results to INEC server in its manual for the conduct of the 2019 polls.Punch reports
Regardless of the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, INEC still reserves the power to issue guidelines for the training of its personnel and the conduct of the elections.
But there are fresh fears that the electoral umpire has come under pressure to exclude these two critical provisions in its guidelines, raising fears that these might be exploited to compromise the outcome of the polls.
A reliable source in INEC told SUNDAY PUNCH that despite the state of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the inclusion of the two provisions would have guaranteed that the outcome of elections in the polling units could be sustained when the results were announced.
The source stated, “You are aware that most of the time, when results are not displayed on the walls of the polling units, the results are usually tampered with between the polling units and the collation centres.
“So, what the provisions are meant to do are to ensure that the results remain the same as those announced at the polling units and ensure that the results are received faster in a server and no one could tamper with them.”
These two elements, according to reliable INEC sources, which are expected to guarantee the transparency of the 2019 general elections, may be missing in the guidelines.
Another INEC official, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, disclosed that certain powerful individuals had been making moves to ensure that these provisions were expunged from the election guidelines.
He refused to give specific names and parties of the personalities and groups mounting the pressure.
He said the display of the results at the polling units had been tested during the Ekiti and Osun states’ governorship elections in 2018.
“You will recall that an INEC official in Osun attempted to remove the result that was displayed in a polling unit in Osogbo because of the disparity between what the polling officer submitted at the Ward Collation Centre and the certified, counter-signed result of the polling unit,” the official said.
The official stated that it would not be a surprise if these provisions were eventually jettisoned for manual collation of results and sending of result sheets rather than sending results electronically to INEC central server with the card reader.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the commission had carried out a test-run of these two provisions with significant successes in the exercises carried out by INEC since after the 2015 general elections.
We won’t accept outcome of any flawed elections –PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party said it will not accept the outcome of any flawed election next year.
The former ruling party said INEC must put in place measures that would ensure credible elections.
It said parts of the measures must include the display of election results at all the polling units in the country and the electronic transmission of results to INEC server in its manual for the conduct of the 2019 polls.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, alleged that there were plans by the commission to rig the elections in favour of the ruling party.
He added that it was because of this alleged move that could make the commission to “behave in such a manner that would give the nation an impression that it doesn’t know what it is doing.”
He added, “We want credible, free, fair and acceptable elections next year. We know that there are dubious people who are mounting pressure on the leadership of the commission to jettison due process in order to subvert good process.
“We want all these to be included in the manual and they must be adhered to and follow to the letter. Anything short of that will not be acceptable to us as a party.”
Our processes not open to manipulation — INEC
He said, “There is no pressure on INEC to discard its processes. The transmission of results from the polling units to our central server during elections is a long standing procedure that cannot be subjected to any external influence.
“On the other hand, the commission introduced the pasting of results at the polling units in order to engender transparency in the electoral process. It was introduced during the Anambra State governorship election and has been repeated in subsequent elections. It has come to stay.
“INEC will never betray the public trust reposed in it. Its processes are sacred and not open to any manipulation. Nigerians are enjoined to disregard the rumour.”
Efforts to reach the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, proved abortive. Calls made to his mobile telephone line were not answered. He had also yet to respond to a text message sent to him as of 9.19pm.