Anxiety, parties kick as INEC delays result upload, collation

Despite heightened hope, optimism and assurances over electronic transmission of results, it was a torrent of criticisms, yesterday, from Nigerians and election observers as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescheduled vote counting for states till today, 48 hours after the presidential elections.

• INEC declares Tinubu winner of Ekiti, shelves further announcement
• Says IReV portal experiencing challenges
• APC plotting to alter results in Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, others, PDP alleges 
• LP: We have documentary evidence results were manipulated
• Allow INEC perform its duties, attempt to discredit election will fail, says APC
• Only result announced by INEC is legitimate – Yakubu
• Ohanaeze warns against manipulating results
• Despite glitches, YIAGA Africa scores BVAS over 80% in areas monitored
• CNPP wants results cancelled where BVAS machines were bypassed
• NHRC urges redress of rights violation to avert violence

Despite heightened hope, optimism and assurances over electronic transmission of results, it was a torrent of criticisms, yesterday, from Nigerians and election observers as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescheduled vote counting for states till today, 48 hours after the presidential elections.

The announcement was made by INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, shortly after the result of Ekiti State was read at the International Conference Centre, Abuja venue of the 2023 presidential election collation centre. Yakubu said the gathering would reconvene today 11:00a.m.

Opening vote count for the election held across 176,606 polling units, which was overshadowed by widespread reports of delays, technical issues, attacks and voter intimidation, INEC announced the 2023 presidential election results for Ekiti State.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ekiti, Ayobami Salami, and Collation Officer for the election in Ekiti, Prof. Akeem Olawale Lasisi, who is Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Health Sciences, Ila Orangun, Osun State, reeling out the results, said Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won all the 16 Councils of the state, polling 210,494 votes followed by Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 89,554 votes.

Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) polled 11,397 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) polled 264 votes; 1703 votes were cancelled due to bye-pass of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and over-voting. 

Yakubu said the Commission was expecting the results of the other 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), before adjourning the national collation.

The Commission noted that it was fully aware of the challenges with the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV). This was contained in a statement by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.

According to him, the portal was only experiencing challenges and not sabotage, adding that the IReV is secured while INEC is working to address the problems.

The statement read: “The Commission is aware of challenges with IReV. Unlike in off-season elections where the portal was used, it has been relatively slow and unsteady. The Commission regrets this setback, especially because of the importance of IReV in our results management process.

“The problem is totally due to technical hitches related to scaling up the IReV from a platform for managing off-season, state elections, to one for managing nationwide general elections. It is indeed not unusual for glitches to occur and be corrected in such situations.

“Consequently, the Commission wishes to assure Nigerians that the challenges are not due to any intrusion or sabotage of our systems and that the IReV remains well-secured.

“Our technical team is working assiduously to solve all the outstanding problems, and users of the IReV would have noticed improvements since last night.

“We also wish to assure Nigerians that results from the Polling Units, copies of which were issued to political parties, are safe on both the BVAS and the IReV portal. These results cannot be tampered with and any discrepancy between them and the physical results used in collation will be thoroughly investigated and remediated, in line with Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2022.”

THE major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that Governors Aminu Bello Masari, Nasir el-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje and Bello Matawalle of Katsina, Kaduna, Kano and Zamfara states respectively, were mounting pressure on INEC officials to alter results in favour of APC.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement on Sunday night, claimed that the APC governors were allegedly blackmailing INEC officials to manipulate the results and transfer massive votes validly cast for PDP and Atiku to APC and Tinubu.

“Our party has been informed that this nefarious scheme by APC governors is responsible for the stalling of collation of election results in Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara and other APC states, where Tinubu is alleged to have released over N11 billion per state to rig the election in his favour.

“This, our party, has been made aware, is responsible for the unexplained delay in the transmission of election results from the said states to INEC server and commencement of formal announcement of results by INEC Chairman.”
LP, also last night, accused INEC of conniving with politicians to manipulate the elections, claiming it has enough documentary evidence to back up its position.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, said: “We have sufficient documentary evidence that confirm that manipulations of the presidential election results have occurred in Lagos, Rivers, Imo, parts of Edo, Delta and some Northern states.

“These manipulations were carried out under the watchful eyes and connivance of police officers at the various election units and INEC offices.”

He said the decision of INEC to go ahead to announce the doctored results based on manufactured voting has defeated the efforts made by Nigerians to see that the Electoral Act was amended to allow for electronic transmission of results. 

“It is disheartening that 24 hours after the elections held across the country, INEC is still yet to upload the authentic results of the presidential poll on its Server. 

“The excuse that the Server is down is not tenable, because we had meeting with INEC before the elections and the electoral umpire assured all political parties, and indeed Nigerians, that they had a Data Recorvert Server and in the event of a technical hitch, the emergency server would be used until the Main Server was brought back online. We find it difficult to accept the flimsy excuse that the INEC Servers were down.” 

He also described the impunity, which occurred in the entire Lagos State during the conduct of the election as another show of shame, where INEC officials refused to upload presidential election results.

“There were widespread incidences of violence, ethnic profiling, and threats meted out on Nigerians, particularly, those who supported LP and our presidential candidate, Peter Obi. Information from our party agents has it that in places like Agege, Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Surulere and Ibeju Lekki, among others, where results shows that Labour Party won convincingly, INEC officials claim that the BVAS suddenly developed fault when it concerned uploading results of the presidential election.

“The same INEC officials uploaded the results of the National Assembly elections to the server without hitches INEC officials used the police to drive our agents and supporters out of the collation centre. And they said that they have firm instruction from INEC headquarters not to upload.” 

HOWEVER, INEC Chairman has urged Nigerians to disregard election results trending on social media, saying only results released by the Commission is legitimate. Yakubu stated this while declaring open the presidential election collation centre.

While setting ground rules for the collation of results, Yakubu said the collation of presidential election result in Nigeria is done at four levels after the conclusion of voting, counting and recording of results at Polling Unit level.

He said: “The results are first tallied and collated at the 8,809 Registration Areas (or Wards). The collated Wards level results are tallied and collated at the 774 Local Government Areas nationwide. Thereafter, they are tallied and collated at each of the 36 states and FCT. The collated figures for each state and FCT are finally collated here in Abuja where the announcement of the outcome of the election is made.”

In same vein, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has warned citizens, especially social media influencers, to stop circulating fake election results as it could heat up the polity.

AS Nigerians await the declaration of the winner, the Tinubu/Shettima presidential campaign council has called on the opposition LP and PDP to conduct themselves with decorum in a manner that would not overheat the polity.

The council’s Director of Public Affairs, Festus Keyamo, in a statement maintained that the body officially designated to declare results remains INEC, stressing that it cannot be bullied nor cowed into silence by the antics of LP, PDP and other opposition parties.

He called on the International Observers and friends of Nigeria not to be distracted, but to focus on the process leading to the declaration of results as it unfolds.

Similarly, Director of Media & Publicity of APC campaign council, Bayo Onanuga, has called on opposition parties to allow INEC do its job.

He made this known in a statement yesterday, saying: “We have noticed the disingenuous attempts by opposition parties, spokesmen of their campaign councils and their hired talking heads on television and radio stations to discredit the presidential and National Assembly elections. 

“Both LP and PDP have accused INEC of conspiracy to rig election result in favour of our party, anchoring their allegation on the agency’s  inability to upload election results on its website. While we call on INEC to expedite action on the process of uploading the results, we want to state categorically that there is nothing unusual about the seeming delay. 

“INEC returning officers bringing the results to the National Collation Centre from the 36 states, may be contending with possible travel logistics as witnessed on Day One of the collation on Sunday, when only Ekiti was ready with its result. There could also be technical issues with IReV, which we are sure the Commission will quickly resolve.

“It is worth stating that election results have been announced and made public at polling units and duly signed by accredited party agents in line with the Electoral Law. There is no political party that does not have election results from all the over 176,000 polling units across the country except for few locations election didn’t hold. The Abuja Collation is merely ceremonial.

“While the law stipulates that the INEC Chairman who is the National Returning Officer for the Presidential election should declare the result, it is also a fact that no party can claim ignorance about its performance from every polling unit through their Situation Rooms updates from party agents. 

“This brazen attempt to discredit this election that is adjudged to be the most peaceful, credible, open, transparent, free and fair in the history of our country will fail.”

MEANWHILE, YIAGA Africa said the BVAS deployed in Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls functioned properly in 88 per cent of the polling units it monitored across the country.

YIAGA Africa’s Watching The Vote in its preliminary findings released in Abuja on Sunday, said it observed that BVAS was deployed for the accreditation of voters and matching of the results in the 99 per cent of the polling units its election observers monitored.

“In 88 per cent of polling units, the BVAS functioned properly. However, in nine per cent of polling units, the BVAS malfunctioned, and it was fixed and in two per cent of the polling units, it malfunctioned and was replaced,” Yiaga Africa’s Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group, Dr. Hussaini Abdu and Executive Director, Samson Itodo, said in the report.

YIAGA Africa stated further that on adherence to election procedures and additional process findings, it observed that in 93 per cent of polling units monitored, the details of registered voters were systematically checked against the register of voters.

It noted, however, that in over nine per cent of polling units visited, INEC polling officials were unprofessional and partisan, while they also observed that the secrecy of ballots were not upheld as voting cubicles were not provided.

While stating that there were also attempts to influence polling officials in some instances, the group said voting cubicles were not provided in five per cent of the polling units, while in 13 per cent of the polling units, the set up did not comply with the guidelines.

On voter intimidation, YIAGA Africa said its observers reported that it was only in five per cent of the polling units that voters faced intimidation, harassment or were assaulted, while situations that were identified as likely voter inducement were observed at seven per cent of the monitored polling units.

As regards transmission of results at the polling units’ level, YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote PVT said the Presiding Officer at 83 per cent of monitored polling units used BVAS to scan/take a snapshot of the results sheet (Form EC 8A).

“In 69 per cent of polling units, the Presiding Officer attempted to transmit/send the polling unit result image to the INEC’s online database (IReV),” the group said.

THE Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has called on INEC to cancel results in parts of the country where the newly introduced BVAS machines were bypassed during accreditation.  

CNPP, in a statement yesterday, signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said: “When the Commission introduced BVAS machines, the device was intended to serve as the only means of verification of the genuineness of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) through fingerprint or facial authentication of voters during accreditation. All verifications outside BVAS are invalid.”

“On the other hand, uploading the polling unit results to IReV was intended to be in real-time on election day, which was substantially not the case.

“So, we are afraid that the results from polling units to IReV were suspiciously delayed because even results from different major cities across the country with good internet connections were not uploaded real-time to the INEC results portal.

“Another very noticeable anomaly is on viral videos where clearly under-aged voters in some states were seen thumb-printing ballot papers in parts of the North. The use of violence to scare voters as well as vote-buying persisted in parts of the country.

“We, therefore, call on the electoral body to exercise its powers under the law to cancel results of polling units where violence, vote buying or mass Thumb-printing of ballot papers took place.”

ALSO, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has observed the disenfranchisement of many eligible voters during the polls. Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu (SAN), while giving a preliminary statement on the election, called on INEC to ensure disenfranchised Nigerians are allowed to vote at the rescheduled date.

Ojukwu attributed the disenfranchisement of eligible voters to factors such as the late arrival of personnel and electoral materials, and the upsurge in the number of voters without corresponding increases in the number of polling unit personnel.

The Commission noted that during human rights election monitoring, INEC could not be reached for complaints through the provided complaint line, adding that there were 43 incidents of reported vote-buying at different units across Lagos, Imo, Sokoto, Jigawa, Edo, Nasarawa and Kogi states despite intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
APEX Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has warned of consequences of using INEC to truncate the will of the Nigerian electorate as expressed through the ballot on Saturday.

In a statement, National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, stated that Nigerians have spoken, adding that it would be a disservice to the nation to try to manipulate the outcome of the several hours under the rain and sunshine by the people.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo expressed appreciation to Nigerians for their courage, steadfastness and the ultimate discharge of their civic duties by exercising their franchise for a better Nigeria at the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

It expressed immense delight that the youths of Nigeria walked their talk by voting for Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed of the Labour Party, overwhelmingly across the country. 

“Going by the results so far released, Nigerians have fully expressed their delight for a quantum leap from the asphyxiating ocean of darkness and want to an inspiring gravy train of light and prosperity,” it said.

Expressing worry that “some agents of darkness are bent on using INEC to test the will of Nigerians”, it warned that reactions so far were an indication that it could be rejected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts