Judex Okoro, Calabar and Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Confusion arose yesterday over the mode of transmitting election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Cross River State, Dr. Frankland Briyai, claimed the poll results would be transmitted electronically.
However, the chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, insisted: “It is practically impossible to use electronic transfer,” noting that, “it has no legal backing.”
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the INEC boss explained: “I am sure the Cross River REC must have been quoted out of context because this issue must have been resolved before now.
“Electronic transfer of votes would have been possible if Mr. President had signed the Amended Electoral Act. INEC cannot use it in this general elections because it has no legal backing.”
But Briyai said in Calabar: “Results will be transmitted from the polling units electronically and the result box will also be carried physically by the collation officers.
“When the collation officer comes with the physical result, it will be confirmed with the electronic result in the presence of the party agents and INEC staff.
“It is only when the physical results and the electronic results correspond that it will be approved by the party agents that that results will be accepted.
“Our smart card readers have been enhanced and upgraded. We have tested them in Osun, Ekiti as well in Anambra Central Senatorial District. In Anambra State, the failure rate was about 0.0%, in Osun State, I did not hear of any smart card failure.
“In our Bye Election in Obudu, there was no smart card failure. The reason is that at each polling unit, we have technicians that fix these smart card readers in case of any challenge.
“One of the problems we discovered over time was that the ad-hoc staff did not know how to use the smart card readers appropriately and so this time around, we are going to have a series of training for them so that they can be very proficient in the use of the card readers.”
Unlike the last general elections, the REC said prospective voters would vote immediately after accreditation and there would be no separate time for accreditation and voting.
He said to address the problem of logistics and late commencement of voting the commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and its sister organisation to help convey materials and personnel to the respective locations. Briyai disclosed that the commission would be recruiting over 15,000 ad-hoc staff for the presidential and legislative elections next month.
He said the commission had taken delivery of non-sensitive materials like ballot boxes and generators from its zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and that there would be generating sets in all the wards in the state.
Meanwhile the Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday embarked on a two-day intensive training of critical electoral stakeholders to put in place adequate measures to contain potential threats to the general elections.
Director-General of the secret police, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, who spoke during the opening ceremony at the services’ Institute of Security Studies in Abuja, said the seminar was designed to create awareness among critical stakeholders in the transport, logistics sector, civil society organizations and the general populace on possible threats to the general elections.
Represented by the director of the institute, Ayodele Adeleke, he revealed that the service was not unaware of myriad of prevailing security challenges, anticipated threats to the elections, as well as the general trepidation over safety of men, materials and the fear of possible negative outcomes.
He said: “Election management as we know, has been a major concern in strengthening electoral systems and attainment of democratic stability in Nigeria.
“The security of an electoral process is crucial, not just in ensuring a free, fair and credible outcome, but also fundamental to attainment of national security.
“Unfortunately, electoral processes and democratic transition in Nigeria, between 1964 and 2018, have been generally marred by irregularities, violence and general insecurity.
“Given the myriad of prevailing security challenges and anticipated threats to the 2019 general elections, which are barely a few weeks away, the general trepidation over safety of men, materials and entire process, as well as the fear of possible negative outcomes, are justified.”