The ongoing drama at the National Assembly over the inclusion of a clause electronic transmission of election results has further exposed the hypocrisy among the political rank and file.
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In a rare expose forced by Senate Minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, the PDP member forced a voice vote when the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, ruled that the Senate will be blocking the usage of electronic transmission of elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) come 2023.
This simple move has revealed the real identity of Senators who have voted against a highly anticipated enablement in the Electoral Act as well as the Senators who voted in support of it. It has shown that all APC senators in the Upper Chamber numbering 52 voted that the capacity for INEC to upload election results electronically should be removed from the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the basis that the 3G network is not available in some parts of Nigeria. However, all the PDP senators present at the Senate sitting totalling 28 voted for the inclusion of e-transmission of results in the amendment bill.
Alternatively, in the House of Representatives, the resolution on e-transmission of results as contained in section 52(3) of the bill was suspended until a representative of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was invited to shed more light on the ability of INEC to transmit election result online.
As suspected, the NCC representative acted according to the script that the 3G network is not available for election result transmission in some parts of Nigeria. Yet, the NCC was still unable to prove that INEC is incapable of transmitting results electronically.
Meanwhile, the INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education, Festus Okoye, has countered the position of the National Assembly in setting restrictive grounds for their operations.
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According to Okoye,
“We have uploaded results from very remote areas…But our powers are given by the constitution and the law, and we will continue to remain within the ambit and confines of the power granted to the commission by the constitution and the law.”
Other citizens have weighed in on the matter from a constitutional point of view. They argued that the constitution empowers INEC to conduct elections however it deems fit.
This is suggesting that the law which establishes and empowers INEC according to the 1999 Constitution supersedes whatever clause that might limit INEC’s power to transmit poll results electronically in the proposed Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Section 78 of the 1999 Constitution provides that
“the registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
INEC has shown credibility with the use of electronic transmission of results in the Edo and Ondo states elections conducted less than a year ago. INEC has also stated that its technological capability enables it to transmit election results even in areas without 3G network technology.
The House of Representatives has instead added the clause that INEC “may transmit results of the election through electronic means where and when practicable” to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill while the Senate’s position has anchored the power to transmit elections results to NCC fiat.
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