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.Full Article: Nigeria: E-Voting Starts 2021 - INEC - allAfrica.com.
Articles about voting issues in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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.Full Article: Just in: E-voting not yet feasible - INEC - The Nation Newspaper.
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.Full Article: PDP Asks INEC To Push For Legalisation Of Electronic Voting – Channels Television.
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 told LEADERSHIP Weekend that it amounts to illegality for the commission or its officers to have transmitted the said results when the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has not been signed into law.
They argued that Section 52 (2) of the operating Electoral Act 2010 prohibits the use of electronic voting machine in Nigeria, including the transmission of the results electronically.
In the same vein, the legal luminaries said that Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 stipulates that election results shall be transmitted manually by INEC presiding officers and that this law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are into a fierce verbal war over the purported existence of a server where INEC allegedly stored the results of the February 23 presidential poll won by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Among the eminent lawyers, who commented on the matter yesterday, were Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Alasa Ismaila, Muktar Abanika, Dr. Kayode Ajulon, and Ismail Alahusa.
They asserted that said since the Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres has not come to effect, the so-called transmitted result is invalid and any reliance on it is null and void.
The lawyers drew attention to the 2015 INEC’s Directives, Guidelines and Manuals which provided for the use of smart card reader while Section 49 of the Electoral Act provided for the use of voter cards instead. According to them, petitioners in previous elections who placed reliance on INEC guidelines by alleging substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act because the smart card reader was not used in the accreditation process and that the election results should be set aside on the basis of the failure to use the smart card reader failed at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, the lawyers said held for instance in Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and Others that INEC’s directives on the use of the smart card reader has not invalidated the use of the manual accreditation process, even if it was fraught with fraud. According to Ahamba,
‘’it is left to the tribunal to determine whether INEC actually gave orders to the presiding officers to transmit the election result electronically to the collation centre or the commission’s server or not. ‘
’The tribunal will determine precisely after it has listened to all sides and gone through all the available evidence adduced by parties to the suit. But it is trite law that if INEC gave unlawful instruction, the result so transmitted is unlawful and invalid,’’ he said. In his views, Ismaila who practices law in Katsina and Abuja said:
‘’It is immaterial whether the presiding officer was instructed to transmit the election results electronically or not. We must determine whether such was governed by the new INEC Guidelines and Manual for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Even then at his level, he cannot claim ignorance that the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which would have authorised it is yet to be signed to law. ‘
’The Supreme Court judgement in Edward Nkwegu Okereke vs Nweze David Umahi and Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and others are enough lessons not to do things outside the law. The apex court held in Wike’s case for example that the introduction of the card reader is certainly a welcome development in the electoral process.
Although it is meant to improve on the credibility of those accredited to vote so as to check the incidence of rigging, it is yet to be made part of the Electoral Act. To Abanika,‘’Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which is still in operation prohibits the use of electronic voting machine for the time being in Nigeria, including the transmission of the electronic results.
He said: ‘’Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 that dictates that the election results shall be transmitted manually by the presiding officer, yet that law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.” The Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres is not yet operational, and as such, the transmitted result is invalid and any reliance place on it is null and void,’’ the lawyers maintained. Dr. Ajulo, who is the founder of Egalitarian Mission in Africa, said that the PDP candidate (Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) has embarked on a fruitless venture with the results he claimed he got from INEC server. Ajulo asserted that the result is not admissible in law, adding that ‘’if President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the amended Electoral Act, which included electronic transmission of results, Atiku would have had a valid case against INEC, but as it is, he cannot even tender the results at the tribunal.” A Kaduna-based lawyer, Ismail Alahusa, agreed with the submissions of Ajulo. He said that electronic transmission of result is not recognised by the Electoral Act and, therefore, the result Atiku claims he got from INEC server is “just a piece of paper.” ‘’He can’t use it at the tribunal because the law does not even recognize the transmission of result electronically. I want to believe that Atiku was not properly advised before approaching the tribunal to challenge the results of the election,” he said. But Akinwumi Adisa, a civil rights activist said that Buhari refused to sign the amended Electoral Act Bill into law because of the fraud the APC and INEC perpetrated during the election. He said: ‘’To every sane Nigerian, the last election is the worst in the history of polls in Nigeria. For every Nigerian that is seeking the good of this country, the last election was a sham and should be condemned by all. ‘’As for the result Atiku claimed he got from INEC server, even if it is not admissible in law, the whole world would be made to know the daylight robbery committed during the last election.’’ A Lagos-based lawyer, Emmanuel Majebi said: “It would not have been possible to transmit the results even if INEC had wanted to do so initially because there are areas that have no network and there are areas where the card readers did not work or were not used. “The figures Atiku brought is very bogus. The combined votes for him and Buhari is more than the total accredited voters, no other candidates got a vote, no cancellation and no voided votes, that in itself has knocked out his INEC server’s claim. I will not want to say much on the issue because it is in court but I will say the electronic transmission of election results was an ideal that wasn’t possible. “It was not backed by law. It was to be a parallel process but it didn’t work or INEC probably heard that some people had planned to compromise it and abandoned it without announcement. Transmission to the server of the number of accredited voters, does not translate to the number of votes cast! Another Lagos-based lawyer Jude Omeire said: “I believe we should not be jumping the gun and we should allow the tribunal to determine the merits and demerits of the petition and the defence. I believe that the law empowered INEC to set guidelines for the conduct of the elections but the question is, can INEC guidelines override the constitution and the Electoral Act? “It is the responsibility of the tribunal to scrutinise the submitted data, and if needs be as to its source and genuineness,” he said.Electronic Transmission Of Election Result Illegal – Lawyers — Leadership Newspaper.
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.Full Article: Nigeria’s Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram - The New York Times.
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.Full Article: Nigeria’s president sacks the chief justice weeks before an election - Above 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.Full Article: Nigeria denies judge’s suspension influenced by election - The Washington Post.
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”.Full Article: Nigeria warns over ‘foreign interference’ ahead of election | Financial Times.
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.Full Article: Opposition Slams Trial of Nigerian Chief Justice Before Vote - Bloomberg.
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.”Full Article: Row as president’s niece takes election post ahead of Nigeria vote – The Citizen.
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.Full Article: Nigeria election: Buhari battles body double rumours and economic woe | World news | The Guardian.
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.”Full Article: Africa's Biggest Democracy Fights Enduring Problem: Rigging - Bloomberg.
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.Full Article: Nigeria: 'How Virtual Polling Units May Mar 2019 Elections' - allAfrica.com.
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).Full Article: Flash - Opposition cries foul in Nigeria governorship runoff vote - France 24.
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.Full Article: Huge fees for Nigerian election hopefuls under fire | News24.
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.”Full Article: Vote-buying as the game changer in Nigeria’s democracy — Features — The Guardian Nigeria Newspaper – Nigeria and World News.
“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.”Full Article: House of Representatives' rejection of electronic voting for 2019 - Vanguard News.
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.Full Article: 4 reasons Nigeria is not yet ready for an electronic voting election.