November 29, 2021

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INEC to N/Assembly: Give us unrestricted powers to use tech in 2023

  • Urges lawmakers to expedite action on Electoral Act amendment

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the National Assembly not to restrict it to a specific technology in the electoral process. 

INEC chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu stated this on Thursday in a remark at the meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee on Electoral Act Amendment Bill in Abuja. 

The conference committee is mandated to harmonise grey areas in the electoral bill passed by both chambers last July. 

The provisions:

Section 52 of the bill, passed by the Senate, empowers INEC to determine the procedure for the transmission of results during the general elections. 

It said: “Subject to Section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission.”

The bill, as passed by the House of Representatives, gives INEC the sole power to transmit results of elections by electronic means “where and when practicable”. 

The INEC boss said empowering the commission to introduce modern technology in the electoral system has become imperative because those already in use could, in due course, become obsolete, inapplicable or irrelevant.

“Understandably, the issue of technology in elections has dominated recent public discussions in Nigeria. The commission appreciates the decision of the National Assembly to empower INEC to determine and deploy appropriate technology in future elections. For us in INEC, this is one of the progressive decisions by our National Assembly. 

“As you finalise on the Electoral Amendment Bill, I urge you to continue to endow the commission with the power to determine what technology to deploy in our elections at the appropriate time. 

“One way of doing so is to make broad provisions of the law that will empower the commission to continue to innovate without restricting us to a specific technology such as the Smart Card Reader which could in due course become obsolete, inapplicable or irrelevant as is already the case following the recent introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by the commission,” he said.

The INEC chairman urged the federal lawmakers to expedite action on the electoral bill, saying “With only 484 days to the 2023 general elections, time is of the essence.” 

He said the commission had been studying aspects of the amendment bill and identifying areas that require the formulation of regulations and guidelines as well as the review of prescribed forms for implementation. 

This, he said, would enable the commission to test-run procedures and pilot innovations ahead of the 2023 general elections.