By Soni Daniel & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Ahead of February general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said it would not use electronic methods for the transfer of results for polls.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Operations, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu disclosed this Tuesday in Abuja at two separate quarterly meetings with members of the Civil Society as well as the media.
He said INEC took the step because the Electoral Act amendment Bill which made provision for it was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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He said; “Since the Bill on Electoral Act which had the electronic transmission of results was not assented, the issue has come up repeatedly in the media. Clause 22 (x) of the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) has been misconstrued to mean that it will be electronic transmission of results.
“No, the extant laws are clear on how results would be transmitted. But we will seek the legal backing for electronic transfer of results in future elections. So, the transmission of results in 2019 will be in accordance with the Electoral Act which will be manual.
“INEC has been piloting electronic transmission since 2014. The only reason we need a law is that the law has already made provision on how results would be transmitted and it is through manual process. For you to change it, you need another law. So, we need a clear legal provision to invalidate it.
“INEC is very willing to do electronic transmission of results; however, the only reason why we need a law is that the present law has already prescribed how transmission of results should be done. So, you need a law to override the extant law. It is already provided in the Electoral Act how results are to be transmitted and it is a manual process.”
Ibeanu also reiterated the position of the commission on people without Permanent Voter Cards, saying they would be allowed to vote if their names appeared on the manual voters register.
Ibeanu said that would be done after they would have dropped their biometrics and telephone numbers for the purpose of capturing them in future exercises.
He however added that what is more important is not their telephone numbers but fingerprints to check persons who may want to undermine the system.
While emphasising that INEC has not changed the number of polling units and voting points used for the 2015 general elections and the 2016 Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, Yakubu said the commission has not created new polling units and would not create any polling unit for the 2019 general elections.
He said, “On polling units, the commission wishes to assure the media that there is no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for the 2015 general elections and the 2016 Area Council elections in the FCT. Any insinuation that new polling units, voting points or voting points (settlement) are being created by the commission is utterly baseless and should be disregarded.
“The register of voters has been finalised, including the detailed breakdown of the distribution of voters by State, Local Government, Wards and Polling Units. No new units have been created and none will be created for the 2019 general elections.”
Contrary to what prevailed in the 2015 elections in which voters did accreditation and come later to vote, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu explained that accreditation and voting would take place simultaneously.
“Actually, the procedure of accreditation and voting is not in the Electoral Act. Simultaneous accreditation is not in the Electural Act. It is part of the commission’s powers; it is a policy matter and not in the Electoral Act. We abolished accreditation before voting because of complains from the media and international observers because a person can be accredited and go home without coming back to vote”, Yakubu stated.