The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will introduce electronic voting (e-voting) in off-season elections starting in 2021. This is contained in a 17-page “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic” released on Monday in Abuja and signed by the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. The policy covers health and legal issues, election planning and operations, election day and post-election activities, voter registration, political parties, election observation, electoral security and deployment of technology in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. “… Continue to make available its electronic channels for voters to check their registration status. Pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time (not Edo and Ondo), but work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021,” the document stated. The commission, however, ruled out the deployment of the e-voting for the coming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states. It said it would adopt electronic platforms for the submission of nomination forms by political parties for the two governorship elections.
Nigeria: National Electoral Commission says electronic voting not yet feasible | Eric Ikhilae/The Nation Newspaper
The National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said electronic voting systems could only be introduced into the nation’s electoral process when the nation was sure of the appropriate technologies, provide infrastructure, to address cyber security, among other challenges. According to INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the country was not there yet. He was however confident that his agency could achieve electronic collation of results (e-collation) and electronic transmission of results (e-transmission) during the next election circle in 2023. Mahmood spoke in Abuja on Monday at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) stakeholders’ forum on elections. NCSSR is a coalition of civil society organisations, led by Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC). The INEC Chairmen, Deputy Senate President, Snetor Ovie Omo-Agege and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami were unanimous on the need to review the nation’s Electoral Act before the next election season and particularly, the importance of creating the much-requested Electoral Offences Commission.
The National Working Committee of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday met with representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over issues of electoral reforms. Leaders of the political party during the meeting urged the electoral body to lead the process of electoral reforms that will legalise electronic voting and reduce military presence during elections. “I would like to urge your commission to move quickly and initiate Electoral Act amendment that will legalise electronic voting and remove the influence of the military as primary security on the Election Day,” National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, said while welcoming the INEC representatives to PDP National Secretariat, Abuja. The party also lamented over alleged military involvement in elections noting that the recent elections including the 2019 general elections calls the integrity of the electoral umpire to question. “Despite a standing lawful court ruling that military should be kept at a distance during elections as secondary security, we have all watched how they not only took over the primary security role from the Police but in some instances dictated and even connived with some INEC officials,” they said.
The Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted. A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week. A copy of the bill exclusively obtained by The Guardian also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader. “At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
Until the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill is passed into law any election result that is electronically transmitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is illegal, a cross section of Nigerian lawyers has said. In their contributions to the raging controversy over INEC’s purported transmission of the results of the 2019 presidential election, the lawyers…
Nigeria: Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram | The New York Times
Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists. Back then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken as captives. Now, as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he stands accused of falling short on all fronts. Critics say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing.
The wheels of justice turn slowly in Nigeria. On the rare occasions when corruption cases are brought against prominent people, petitions can take years to resolve. It was therefore unusual that on January 25th President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, a mere 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. This was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule. Mr Buhari’s move was not merely unusual. It was also unlawful. Nigeria’s constitution seeks to balance the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government; a power play by one part against a second needs the consent of the third. Mr Buhari did not seek support from the Senate, where he lacks the two-thirds majority needed to oust the chief justice, so his act is widely viewed as being against the law.
Amid growing criticism, Nigeria’s information minister denied on Monday that the president’s recent suspension of the country’s chief justice was related to the upcoming presidential elections. The suspension of Chief Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen had “nothing to do with the forthcoming elections” and did not “signify the onset of dictatorship or tyranny as some have insinuated,” Minister Lai Mohammed said. The chief justice faces trial on charges of allegedly failing to declare his assets, which Onnoghen has argued is without merit. This is the first time a chief justice is standing trial in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 190 million people. Critics say the suspension of the chief justice just three weeks before the election is an effort by President Muhammadu Buhari to weaken Nigeria’s judiciary and pave the way for his election to a second term in the Feb. 16 vote. The chief justice plays a key role in any legal challenge to what could be a disputed vote.
The Nigerian government has said it will not accept “foreign interference” in February’s presidential elections after the EU, UK and US spoke out against the sudden suspension of the chief justice. The three western powers issued statements at the weekend voicing concern over how President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the judge might affect the conduct of elections in Africa’s most populous country. As Nigeria’s senior judge, Walter Onnoghen would have played a key role in deciding any legal challenges to the results of the presidential race between Mr Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar. In a statement on Saturday night, Mr Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, warned that the government “will fiercely and assiduously promote the will and the right of Nigerians to choose and elect their leaders without pressure or assistance from persons or entities that are not constitutionally empowered to participate in the process”.
The trial of Nigeria’s top judge got underway in a case that’s prompted lawyers and opposition parties to accuse the government of trying to oust him and spark a constitutional crisis before next month’s presidential election. Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen didn’t attend the opening Monday in Abuja, the capital, where the Code of Conduct Tribunal is charging him for not properly declaring his assets. The trial was adjourned until Jan. 22, and the Federal High Court in Abuja later said it will hold a hearing on Jan. 17 into whether it can continue, Lagos-based Punch newspaper reported.
Nigeria’s opposition has objected to the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece to the election commission ahead of presidential elections in February, when he will seek a second term. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) claimed the appointment Thursday of Amina Zakari to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was an attempt to rig the vote in Buhari’s favour. Zakari, who has worked at INEC in other roles, will head a branch of the commission involved in collating the election results. The PDP said in a statement: “for us to have a peaceful election, Mrs Amina Zakari should not be seen anywhere near any of the 2019 election processes, not to talk of being involved in the collation of presidential (vote) results.”
Returning to Nigeria after a long sick leave in London last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was greeted with a bizarre conspiracy theory. He had died and been replaced by “Jubril from Sudan”, a body double who had undergone extensive plastic surgery, said the Biafran secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu. In October, just before campaigning began for February’s presidential election, the rumour went viral. For weeks now, prospective voters have been squinting at before-and-after pictures of the president’s hands and ears, trying to spot the difference – so much so that the normally-tightlipped Buhari has felt the need to deny the rumours. “It’s the real me, I assure you,” he told an audience in Poland on Sunday, chuckling.
As Nigeria heads toward general elections in February, it’s in a race to stamp out the bane of the voting system in Africa’s biggest democracy: rigging. Ballot snatching and buying, underage and multiple voting, falsifying results and the suppression of turnout in opposition areas are among the abuses the National Assembly is trying to tackle with new legislation. The bill, passed last month, emerged from talks among the presidency, lawmakers and civic groups. As it awaits President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature, time is running out. “We put a lot of work into the bill and we believe a lot of the provisions are positive,” said Clement Nwankwo, the chairman of Situation Room, a coalition of 71 civic organizations monitoring the election process. “If it’s not signed now, there’ll really be worries.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was warned yesterday that the credibility of its elections in 2019 may be threatened by electronic manipulation. It was further told that the manipulation was being planned by some persons within its ranks. The alarm was raised by the convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, at a press briefing in Abuja. Reliable sources in INEC revealed that the commission’s e-collation portal has been tampered with, Adeyanju said, warning that this could lead to the creation of virtual polling units. According to him, while e-collation remains the most potent way to end vote rigging, a faulty system means anyone could enter results from any location at anytime or date because the portal allegedly no longer shows location, time and date of collation.
Nigerian opposition parties cried foul late Thursday as the country’s electoral commission failed to publish official results for runoff governorship elections in the southwestern Osun state. The vote is the final major test before Nigerians elect a new president, parliament, governors, and state legislatures in February and March next year. Forty-eight candidates from different political parties contested the election last Saturday. But the leading candidates were Gboyega Oyetola from President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ademola Adeleke of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigeria’s two main political parties are asking election hopefuls to pay huge fees for the chance to stand at next year’s general election, in a move criticised as favouring the rich and well-connected. At the last nationwide vote in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of then-president Goodluck Jonathan charged 22 million naira per nomination form. The All Progressives Congress (APC) of the eventual winner Muhammadu Buhari asked for 27.5 million naira just to stand in the party’s presidential primary. Now, as both parties prepare for polling in February next year, the APC wants an eye-watering 45 million naira ($125 500) per presidential primary candidate, according to newspaper adverts on Wednesday.
In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, a public relations firm named Cambridge Analytica attempted to influence Nigerian voters by orchestrating a smear campaign against eventual winner, Muhammadu Buhari.
When Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to influence Nigeria’s elections were made public earlier this year, many were shocked as to the length the firm (formerly SCL Elections) went to ensure the re-election victory of then-president, Goodluck Jonathan. On the prompting of an unnamed Nigerian billionaire, the data mining firm hacked Facebook to harvest the profile of millions of users and target what was determined to be their worst fears. In a video the firm produced, people were filmed being dismembered, having their throats cut and bled to death, and also burned to death in a bid to portray Muslims as violent and Buhari as the man that will impose Sharia Law that’ll make that sort of violence commonplace in the country.
The game has changed. The days are gone where rampant and widespread ballot-box snatching, political thuggery, and falsification of figures at collation centres define election rigging in Nigeria.Today, vote-buying is the name of the game and just as an election observer and monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has described, vote-buying is the new way of election rigging by politicians in the country. Projector Director of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said in Osogbo yesterday at a Media Round Table Discussion tagged ‘Watching The Vote’ ahead of the September 22 governorship election in Osun State.Mbamalu said vote-buying was becoming a threat to Nigerian electoral process, adding that all hands must be on deck to put an end to the menace. “Nowadays, the more money you give, the more votes you get and this is becoming a problem and a challenge to our electoral process.”
“Are we adequately equipped for the operation of the electronic voting? Countries which have operated this system for decades still grapple with it despite the advanced state of their technological development. It must be appreciated that the problems bedevilling elections in Nigeria do not entirely relate to the accuracy of the process of voting and collation of votes. It is more of an attitudinal problem on the part of the electorates and the Politicians who will stop at nothing to attain political power”. On the 31st of May 2018, the House of Representatives rejected moves for the adoption of electronic voting during the upcoming 2019 general elections. The House took the decision whilst considering the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the long title of which is, “A bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 to further improve the electoral process and for related matters.”
Globally, 26 countries conduct elections with one form of electronic voting or the other with some even allowing internet ballots for general elections. In 2014, Namibia joined the list becoming the first African country to conduct an e-voting election. Nigeria has made moves too. In 2017, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), unveiled a solar-powered electronic voting machine that was reportedly made in Nigeria. Ever since this announcement, Nigerians have clamoured for electronic voting in the 2019 general elections but this may be a bad idea. Kaduna State recently made history when it pulled off Nigeria’s first electronic voting in its local government elections. Ironically, howbeit successful, Kaduna illustrates practical reasons Nigeria is not ready for e-voting in 2019.
It is mid-afternoon on the Friday before the local government elections in Kaduna State. Dr. (Mrs.) Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu, chairman of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM), has been on her feet for the most part of the day moving from one end of the commission’s premises to the other. The compound itself is buzzing with activities like a bee hive, marking a culmination of events that have taken place over the past 6 months. The Kaduna State local government elections were earlier slated for the 30th of December 2017 and subsequently cancelled. KAD-SIECOM suspended the elections because the State House of Assembly had not passed the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission Bill No. 10 of 2012 into law.
There are strong indications that millions of Nigerians of voting age might be disfranchised in next year’s general elections because their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) have either been lost or damaged. Majority of these people are currently in various internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, especially in Northern and North Central parts of the country. Some have relocated because of insecurity in their area. In Borno and Yobe states, millions of Nigerians are in IDP camps due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents. And in the North Central states of Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and Niger, Fulani herdsmen have sacked people from their homes and burnt their houses, forcing them to them to also take refuge in camps. Down South, Ebonyi State has also witnessed herdsmen attacks and communal clashes. Apart from loss of property and other personal belongings, some (if not most) of these people have also lost their PVCs. In all intent and purposes, they have been disenfranchised from voting in next year’s general elections.
The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu has confirmed that the commission will not deploy the use of electronic gadgets to conduct voting during the 2019 general elections. Yakubu, who is also the President of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) said this while briefing reporters at the end of the three-day International Conference on “ Opportunities and Challenges in the use of technology in Elections”, which ended in Abuja on Wednesday. The conference organized by the INEC, the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), the Electoral Commissions Forum of Southern Africa Development Countries (ECF/SADC) drew participants from over 30 countries from West and southern African sub-regions, who brainstormed on the deployment of technology for elections.
Nigeria: Cambridge Analytica parent company manipulated Nigeria’s 2007 election, documents show | The Globe and Mail
The parent company of Cambridge Analytica boasted of its success in manipulating a Nigerian election by using religious leaders to suppress the vote, according to documents released on Thursday. The documents were released by Canadian whistle-blower Christopher Wylie to a committee of the British House of Commons. They include a promotional brochure by SCL Group, the British affiliate of Cambridge Analytica, which later worked with Canadian firm AggregateIQ in elections worldwide. nThe brochure suggests that SCL considered the option of bribing Nigerian voters to vote for the government, but decided that such “financial incentives” would be ineffective because the voters had so much contempt for politicians that they would simply take the money and mark their ballot for someone else.
The Diaspora Voting Right Movement, a Nigerian Group based in the United Kingdom, on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to legalise Diaspora voting. Dr Philip Idaewor, the Convener of the group, said on the telephone from London that the clamour for Diaspora voting had been on for more than a decade. “ As women celebrate 100 years of voting rights in the United Kingdom, Nigerians in the Diaspora renew call for the right to vote in elections in Nigeria,” he said.
The British government has disclosed that it is interested in the credibility of the electoral process that will produce political leader in Nigeria in 2019, noting that it will contribute its quota in training the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC) to effectively discharge their duties to enhance the process. British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, disclosed this in a live interview with Jay101.9FM station in Jos. He said aside from deploying its citizens as election observers during the elections, the UK intends to see to the improvement in the use of electronic Card Reader Machines above what it was in the past elections, and also encourage the National Assembly to back the use of same with appropriate legislation.
The National Assembly yesterday said that efforts had reached an advanced stage in the process of enacting a new Electoral Act that would make provision for electronic voting ahead of the 2019 general elections. The parliament also said that it had stepped up activities geared towards redefining the regulatory framework to make elections more transparent and credible in the country. Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari, disclosed this at an interface with me dia executives at the National Assembly, Abuja. The media roundtable was hosted by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) as part of a strategic plan to engage political actors, political office holders, media and other stakeholders on preparations for the forthcoming general elections.
The dream of Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in the country’s electoral process may soon be realised, going by the words of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu. He said the commission had written the National Assembly on the need to thinker with the enabling law, to allow Nigerians living outside the country to vote. Yakubu spoke yesterday with the Sudanese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, who was at INEC’s headquarters to deliver a letter of invitation to him. There are about 10 million Nigerians in Sudan under two categories- Sudanese of Nigeria origin and Nigeria migrants in Sudan.
As the nation prepares for 2019 general election, Nigerians living with disabilities have developed a demand charter for inclusion that will enable them participated fully in electoral processes in the country, in line with what is obtainable across all developed democracies. The Charter was said to have been developed as a frontal attack to the challenge of poor management of political process, particularly the voting day machinery which usually exclude Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). Although, various persons with disabilities in the country acknowledged that various cluster of PWDs usually participated in elections, there is the need for more inclusion in the processes to boost greater participation in future elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has inaugurated a 20-member Inter-Agency Technical Committee to assess a newly-developed e-voting system. The commission disclosed this in a statement issued by INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, on Thursday in Abuja. The e-voting machine was developed by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI). The agency, led by the Minister for Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, had in June paid a visit to the commission for a demonstration of a prototype e-voting machine developed by NASENI.