*Says commission not subordinate to NCC
*Saraki asks legislature to act in national interest
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the National Assembly to revisit the Electoral Act amendment bill, assuring that it has the capacity and technical knowhow to undertake electronic transmission of election results throughout the country. INEC declared that it was not subordinate to the National Communication Commission (NCC) or answerable to any government agency.
In a similar development, former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, advised members of the Joint Conference Committee of the National Assembly to move fast in considering the different versions of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill passed by both chambers and let their decisions be guided only by national interest.
That was as the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of over 70 organisations, asked the Senate to quickly resolve the conflicting aspects of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill so as to save the country from long-drawn litigations and uncertainty, which could put INEC’s preparations for the elections in jeopardy.
INEC called on the Senate and House of Representatives to quickly amend Sections 63, 65 and other relevant sections of the Electoral Act, which bar the commission from collation of election results electronically. It insisted that electronic transmission of results was doable, and it would guarantee safety, honesty and transparency.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, insisted that the electronic transmission of results real time was the best guarantee of transparency.
Speaking in a television programme monitored in Abuja on Monday, Okoye said INEC was determined to use electronic devices to improve Nigeria’s electoral process, and deliver free, fair and credible elections. Okoye said for such to become a reality, the National Assembly must show courage by amending the relevant sections of the Electoral Act.
He said, “Although INEC is increasingly tilting towards the use of technology to deliver a free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, we want the National Assembly to amend the law, which prescribed the method elections are being conducted at the moment.”
Okoye admitted that INEC was still using the manual method, as enshrined in the Electoral Act, by collating election results from the Polling Units (PU), using Form EC8A, and Registration Area Collation Centre (RACC), with Form EC8B up to local government areas, and using Form EC8C to collate results, which are computed manually before announcement.
Okoye maintained that INEC had perfected the use of technology to conduct elections starting from the 2023 general election.
He stated, “For us to alter the methodology, the Electoral Act must be changed to accommodate the new innovations. We want National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to enable INEC deliver a more transparent, fair and credible elections that will meet the aspirations of Nigerians. They should also look at 51, 52, 53 and 57 of the Electoral Act.
“We are already uploading election results electronically but we will need the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to be amended to avoid litigations, because INEC doesn’t want our election winners to be determined by the law courts.”
Okoye said the commission was not answerable to NCC or any other federal government organ in carrying out its constitutional duties, saying INEC has inherent powers to conduct elections.
He said, “Nobody can bully INEC to share its powers given by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria of Nigeria. Section 160 of Nigerian constitution mandates INEC to give NCC duties to perform, not NCC giving INEC orders.
“Also, Section 52 of Electoral Act gives INEC inherent powers to conduct elections in any manner it wants, including e-voting. Again, the 2015 Electoral Act (as amended), which was signed by the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has given INEC unfettered powers to conduct elections in the best method available.”
He insisted that the present method of manual collation of election results from PU, RACC and LGA should be done away with, adding, “With the introduction of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and other devices by INEC, elections in Nigeria can only get better, hence, National Assembly should join in deepening Nigeria’s democracy.”
On his part, Saraki said in a statement by the head of his media office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, that the harmonisation of the versions of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill and its eventual passage should be concluded in time so that the law could be assented to before the political process leading to the 2023 general election. He said the success of the next round of elections would depend on the existence of a new enabling law with relevant provisions that would guarantee a credible, free, fair and peaceful process.
The statement said, “That is why it is important that members of the Conference Committee should strive hard to rise above partisan and personal considerations. They should take decisions solely based on national interest and the need to strengthen our electoral process. The country is bigger than our various political parties. Nigeria is even bigger than any individual or any loyalty we may have to an individual.
“That is why members of the committee should give genuine and deep consideration to the delicate issue of adopting the provision on electronic transmission of results, which will help to strengthen our electoral process, deepen our democracy and improve the level of participation in the elections.
“Your assignment is very crucial to the future of our country and if through your work we get a good law that will help in reforming the political process, you will be completing a great circle in the building of a legacy. It is a circle that started, when the immediate past National Assembly passed the same bill and only failed to get presidential assent, because of the politics of the period.
“I want to remind members of the respective hallowed and honourable chambers that at this point in our national history, we cannot fail to seize the opportunity that this bill presents to us to enthrone a credible and transparent electoral process. Whatever you do as you consider this bill is your own role in making history, in saving our democracy and building a future that is stable and progressive, where elected leaders truly represent the interest of the people.
“It should be noted that even after leaving the National Assembly, I have consistently canvassed the need for us to quickly pass a new Electoral Act that will include important provisions aimed at developing our electoral system. On one occasion in September 2020, during a webinar conference on ‘Electoral Reforms and Democracy’ organised by Centre for Advancement of Civil Liberties, I called on Nigerians to continue to create awareness on the importance of the Bill ahead of the 2023 elections
“At this point, I need to appreciate the efforts of young people across the country, who went round spending their time and resources to create events aimed at generating awareness on the Bill, all members of the National Assembly, who have made sacrifices to get us this far, various development partners, civil society groups, members of the press and other stakeholders who played different roles in getting the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill to the semi-final stage, where it is almost getting to the point of becoming an effective Act of Parliament. We must continue to improve our system until we achieve the real objective of ‘One Man, One Vote’ and where the votes of the electorate count.”
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room said the version of the Electoral Act Amendment bill stipulating the recommendation of NCC before transmission of results electronically was a breach of the constitution. Convener of the group, Ene Obi, said at a news conference on Monday in Abuja that this would not augur well for democracy in the country. Obi insisted that the power to determine the procedure for transmission of results should be vested with INEC.
The Situation Room and its European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN), its implementing partners, called on the National Assembly to show selflessness during the harmonisation.
It stated, “Notwithstanding the landmark proposals in the on-going review process, civil society partners and key stakeholders have identified about 17 points of divergence in the versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly. These are the use of smart card readers, deployment of electronic voting, collation and transmission of results, cost of campaigns, process of nomination of candidates, among others.
“As expressed by a vast majority of electoral stakeholders and Nigerians, we are concerned by these identified differences in the proposals, particularly, regarding electronic transmission of results and deployment of technological devices.
“Following from our experience and observations of elections in recent years, as well as widely held views by Nigerians, we expect the harmonisation committee to accept the version of the bill that allows INEC to determine the mode of conduct of elections, including transmission of results.”
Obi said INEC had shown that it had adequate capacity to use technology in elections, including the transmission of results.
Ene added that INEC’s capability had been proven during the off-circle elections and through its use of the Z-pad and more recently, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
Another member of the Situation Room, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the group recommended the adoption of the senate version of clause 43, which recognised that INEC could use voting devices alongside election materials.
In addition, Mbamalu said, the group urged the harmonisation committee to adopt the Senate’s version of clause 49, which recognised the use of other technological devices alongside smart card readers for voter accreditation. She added that the House of Representatives version of clause 52 should be adopted, as it gave INEC the power to determine the procedure for voting and transmission of election results.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Thisdaylive
Anambra Guber: IPOB declares sit-at-home on election day
Anambra state governorship election may suffer serious setback as the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared total lockdown in all states in south East from November 5 to November 10, to compel the federal government to release its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has fixed the Anambra gubernatorial election for November 6, 2021.
But in a statement issued by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB said, “Following the adjournment of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s court case to 10th of November 2021, by the Federal High Court Abuja, it demanded all lovers of Biafra and Biafrans to sit at home from 5 to 10 November to ensure that their leader is released.
“We the great movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), wish to inform Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom that IPOB will lock down Biafra land from 5th of November to 10th of November except Sunday, November 7th, a day our people worship the Almighty God, Chukwu Okike Abiama, if the Nigeria Government fails to release our leader unconditionally before 4th of November 2021” he stated.
IPOB said its leader Nnamdi Kanu must be released unconditionally on or before November 4, 2021 “because he has not committed any offense known to any law.
According to the group, “failure to release Nnamdi KANU on or before November 4, 2021 there will be one week Sit-At-Home beginning on November 5, 2021 till November 10.”
Daily Trust reports that Kanu was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja on treasonable felony and terrorism charges.
The fresh seven-count charges against Kanu followed his arrest and extradition from Kenya after he jumped bail.
Kanu, however, pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
2023 presidency: Tinubu support group launched in Abuja
A support group for the 2023 presidential campaign of Bola Tinubu has inaugurated states’ steering committee in Abuja.
It also unveiled the “Asiwaju legacies” at the national secretariat of the TSG in Maitama, Abuja.
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is aspiring to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari when the latter’s tenure expires in 2023.
The Abuja event is coming two weeks after the APC national leader spent over three months in London, where he was said to have undergone surgery.
All groups supporting Tinubu in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were present with a large crowd at the launch.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon James Abiodun Faleke, who delivered a keynote address, said the APC must prepare grounds for an orderly transition of power to another APC government in 2023 by fielding Tinubu as a presidential candidate.
He said, “Our party and government must snap victory from the jaws of these challenges. It is not the time to experiment with inexperienced experts. It is not the season for those who can talk but have no history of walking their talk.
“To secure the votes of the majority in 2023, we must present a candidate that knows where the shoe pinches the average Nigerian, not just because he has been but because, as the governor of the most difficult, most complex state in Nigeria, he put smiles on the faces of the poor by convincing the rich to join the government to chase poverty from the streets.”
Faleke also said, “That man is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos, Lagos State. Our party is therefore lucky that it does not need to go on a wild goose chase for the man to fly our party’s flag in these challenging times; a time when the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must go to the person who can continue to end banditry, to crush kidnappers and engage separatists so that our people can live in peace and prosperity.
“We have discovered a man who is ready to sacrifice all he has for his fatherland. It is now clear that the meeting of minds between him and President Buhari is grounded in their circumstances.
“Just like President Buhari left power in august 1985 but continued to mark the higher standards of the progressive military in government, the image and relevance of our man of the moment soared in public consciousness despite his unofficial status.”
16 APC Governors backing Tinubu for 2023 presidency – Adeyeye
Former Minister of Works and National Chairman, South West Agenda for Tinubu, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has said 16 governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress are solidly supporting the presidential aspiration of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Adeyeye disclosed this when he inaugurated the parallel APC ward and local executives in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
The former Senate spokesman, who spoke on Thursday, said the Governors have a keen interest in the actualisation of Tinubu’s presidential bid.
He explained they were queuing behind the APC stalwart because of his administrative acumen, mental capacity, rare leadership quality and unequalled political structures which cut across the six geo-political zones.
The former Minister noted that the Office ofthe President was too important to be given to a political Lilliputian without structure, adding that Tinubu is perfectly suitable for the plum position by all standards
He said: “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will be the next President of this country and one of us will become the Governor in Ekiti State.
“I am happy that the new executives have passion for this group and this will lead to action and eventually victory for all of us.
“APC leaders and members across board are using their personal money to fund SWAGA. Members are not after money.
“Let me tell you this: 16 governors are now backing Tinubu for president and they are no longer afraid after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State openly supported us when we did the flag off in Lagos.”
Speaking on the parallel executives, the APC chieftain said its congresses were authentic, describing the Paul Omotoso-led executives elected by a group loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Saturday as mere impostors.
He said: “Those that were inaugurated today are the authentic APC executives in Ekiti.
“The party at the national level brought out a guideline that people should come out and queue to vote for the ward and local government congresses but their people didn’t come out.
“They were inside a room concocting names under the guise of consensus.
“But SWAGA members filed out.
“We have the video clip that we will present.
“What they did on Saturday, October 16 was a nullity and a complete waste of time.
“We knew what we did for Fayemi to win in 2018.
“He couldn’t have won on his own because he has no popularity.
“I know that they can’t buy you with money, you are for SWAGA.
“This government has finished, don’t let them deceive you with positions.
“Only the Fayemi’s Tokantokan group is enjoying the dividends of what we did, others are sidelined.
“It is now shop alone, die alone.
“Even many of those with appointments are aggrieved.
“Many will shock them during the governorship primary.
“We are now using direct primary.
“They can no longer sleep because the party now wants direct primary, owing to the fact that they are not popular.”
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