The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is laying the foundation for the rigging of the 2023 election through the manual collation of results.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in an interview with the Punch on Saturday said the collation of results of the 2023 general elections will be done manually despite the adoption of electronic transmission of results.
Okoye was quoted to have said “Section 60(5) of the Act makes it mandatory that the presiding officer shall transfer the results, including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner prescribed by the commission. Thereafter, the presiding officer shall after recording and announcing the results deliver the same along with election materials under security and accompanied by the candidates or their polling agents, where available to such person as may be prescribed by the commission.
“The implication of this is that the collation process of results is still essentially manual, but the collation officer must collate subject to his verification and confirmation that the number of accredited voters stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units, he added.
Atiku, reacting through his spokesman, Daniel Bwala, Sunday alleged that with such a statement ” INEC is laying the foundation for the rigging of the 2023 elections”.
The PDP Presidential candidate spokesman examined that “Section 60 is clear. At the close of voting at the polling unit, the voting results will be uploaded, meaning that by the time the officer from the unit goes to the ward, he cannot present a result different from the one that was uploaded, which every voter can have access to it.
According to him, the same thing applies to the local government and the state, because there is evidence that results have been sent to a server where they cannot be manipulated.
He said, what Okoye said means they are creating the room and possibility for somebody to manipulate the result without prejudice to the counting and the result as announced at the unit.
The PDP candidate cautioned INEC that Nigerians are not interested in litigation, but in a free, fair, credible election where their votes will count.
According to him, If INEC relies on manual collation, they will be going around the provisions of the Electoral Act to take the country’s electoral system backwards.
He continued “Sadly, they are trying to find a solution where there is no problem because this same electronic upload and transmission has been done in Anambra, Ekiti, Edo and Osun and they were successful, that procedure has not been challenged.
“If you go to court all the challenges in court were around certificates of individual and whether that individual is qualified or not. But that procedure has worked.
“So why are you trying to fix something that is not broken? It means something is fishy, we smell coffee. And that’s why we’re calling all well-meaning Nigerians and lovers of democracy in Nigeria and beyond to raise their voices and speak with one voice.
“There must be strict compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act with respect to electronic upload and transmission of result, without prejudice to what INEC is thinking about bringing”.
He warned that INEC must never try to change the procedure that has worked in these states mentioned.
Emphasising that, the 2023 election must be free and must be transparent.
“We don’t want litigation. We want the voice and the will of the people to prevail in Nigeria,” he added.