Published On: Wed, May 15th, 2019

Atiku, Tribunal and sundry matters

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The petition filed by Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in the just-concluded presidential elections is fraught with inconsistencies which bring to mind question of its veracity and the mindfulness of the counsellors in charge of the petition. It ought to have been envisaged that the substance of the petition is unrealistic and another bout of propaganda from the stables of Atiku Abubakar.
Earlier, it was obvious that Atiku and his party were on a campaign of slander and distortion of truth aimed at altering the perspectives of the populace on events thereby creating sympathy for Atiku and his party. There were countless attempts but efforts at rebuffing them were well effective that exposing the insincerity of the PDP and its presidential candidate is one of the reasons for their eventual defeat at the polls.
Just when we thought it was all over and about settling down to enjoy the splendour of the next level, Atiku released another bombshell of intrigues. So in our characteristic manner, we will explore the terrain of tenable facts and feasible realities to set some records straight, puncture the lies and free many Nigerians from believing the falacies.
In the build-up to the 2019 general elections, we had, at a time, exposed plans by the PDP and its presidential flag bearer to hack the INEC server and create a serious integrity issue for both the INEC and the APC-led administration. We had detailed the involvement of the lobbying firm engaged by Atiku and their Russian hackers connection in the same plan.
We had simultaneously raised concerns on the persistence of PDP on the call for INEC to adopt electronic voting and transmission of collated results. The call came about the time of the president’s returning the ambiguous and contradictory electoral amendment bill which would have birth the era of highest fraud through electronic voting in Nigeria. The refusal of the assent was on the grounds that the timing was too close to the election which in accordance with the ECOWAS Protocols and the introduction of the new law will create confusion in the system.
Obvious of the fact that non-acceptance of the electronic voting and transmission of results will punch a hole in their rigging plan, PDP continuously mounted pressure on INEC to adopt the new system to no avail. The position and powers of INEC regarding collation of election results and transfer of same is moderated by the electoral law. The Electoral Act, 2010 ( as amended) was very clear on its submission that election results must be manually transmitted from all polling stations via ward and state collation centres to the national collation centre in the case of presidential election.
Section 27 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended stipulates that:
The Results of all the elections shall be announced by-
(a) the Presiding Officer at the Polling unit;
(b) the Ward Collation Officer at the Ward Collation Centre;
(c) the Local Government or Area Council Collation Officer at the Local Government / Area Council Collation Centre;
(d) the State Collation Officer at the State Collation Centre; and
The Returning Officer shall announce the result and declare the winner of the election at-
(a) Ward Collation Centre in the case of Councillorship election in the Federal Capital Territory;
(b) Area Council Collation Centre in the case of Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship election in the Federal Capital Territory;
(c) State Constituency Collation Centre in the case of State House of Assembly election;
(d) Federal Constituency Collation Centre in the case of election to the House of Representatives;
(e) Senatorial District Collation Centre in the case of election to the Senate;
(f) State Collation Centre in the case of election of a Governor of a State;
(g) National Collation Centre in the case of election of the President; and
(h) the Chief Electoral Commissioner who shall be the Returning Officer at the Presidential election.
Section 73 of the Act states that “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall issue and publish, in the Gazette, guidelines for the elections which shall make provisions, among other things, for the step by step recording of the polls in the electoral forms as may be prescribed beginning from the polling unit to the last collation centre for the ward or constituency where the result of the election shall be declared”
Section 74 goes ahead to state that “Every Result Form completed at the Ward, Local Government, State and National levels in accordance with the provision of this Act or any guidelines issued by the Commission shall be stamped, signed and countersigned by the relevant officers and polling agents at those levels and copies given to the police officers and the polling agents, where available.”
Section 63 and 65 prescribe the method of counting and collation of election results. Section 63 states that:
The Presiding Officer shall, after counting the votes at the polling unit, enter the votes scored by each candidate in a form to be prescribed by the Commission as the case may be.
The form shall be signed and stamped by the Presiding Officer and counter signed by the candidates or their polling agents where available at the polling unit.
The Presiding Officer shall give to the Polling Agents and the police officer where available a copy each of the completed forms after it has been duly signed as provided in subsection (2) of this section.
The Presiding Officer shall count and announce the result at the polling unit.
Section 65 states that “After the recording of the result of the election, the Presiding Officer shall announce the result and deliver same and election materials under security to such persons as may be prescribed by the Commission.”
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu made a very important clarification about the essence of the back end server and transmission of election results electronically during a discussion with Channels Television political journalist, Seun Okinbaloye, before the presidential election was conducted. His remarks were:
Well, for everything that we do, there has to be a back end but if you are talking about back end in terms of the places where results are transmitted, I want to make this important clarification, we’ll transmit results in 2019 as prescribed by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which is essentially manual. It involves the collation and transmission of results physically from one stage to another, and there are prescribed forms. But we are going to pilot the electronic transmission: collation and transmission of results but will not be used for the purpose of making declaration of winners in the election.
… As for the reason why we are not transmitting results electronically, recall that we had some discussions with the Nigerian Communications Commission and through the Communications Commission we hand some meetings with the Telecom Service Providers –the Telcos– and we have identified blind spots in Nigeria that are not covered by any of the networks. How do you effectively transmit results from those blind spots?
The INEC also had a meeting with Nigerian Communication Satellite in order to see if the issue of the blind spots could be addressed before the election but the meetings were not fruitfully concluded before the general election. How did Atiku, the PDP and his counsellors come up the results from a back end server which was not critically manned for any error source? More so, how did Atiku and the PDP come up with results for blind spots around the country at the back end server?
The records are available of how the National Assembly had approved fund for the purchase of the card reader machines in the Appropriation Act of 2014, and the then ruling party wanted to use its control of the federal legislature to discredit the electronic device. Hence, the immediate-past chairman of the INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, was summoned to the Senate to justify the introduction of the card reader for voter accreditation. In taking up the challenge, Prof. Jega demonstrated the use of card readers and its capacity to eliminate electoral fraud perpetrated at the accreditation stage of election. At the end of the exercise the Senate was compelled to endorse the use of card reader for the 2015 general elections. Thereafter, the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2015 which sought to further strengthen the use of card reader was unanimously passed by both chambers of the National Assembly. The bill was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan on March 20, 2015.
Continued on page 20

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