Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confessed that the deployment of technology in the electoral process especially during the 2019 general elections came with challenges. The Commission made the disclosure in the review of the 2019 general elections, a report of the Commission’s retreats and stakeholder engagement, presented during a press briefing in Abuja on Friday. INEC also claimed in the review that the delay in investigation and transmission of case files to the Commission for further action by the police has hindered the successful prosecution of electoral offenders
Making recommendation on ICT, SCRs, DDCMs, CVR and Internet services, the Commission noted: “The growing use of technology in the planning of elections became a feature in our elections with the introduction of MRI in the voter registration process in 2006.
“Since then, INEC has increasingly deployed technology to address some of the key challenges in the management of electoral processes. However, the deployment of technology in electoral process is not without its challenges,” INEC noted. On the constraints of prosecuting electoral offenders, it said: “The power to arrest and investigate electoral offenders is vested in the Nigeria Police while the Commission is empowered to prosecute electoral offenders using legal officers or any legal practitioner engaged by it. It is clearly constrained in discharging this huge and complex responsibility. In fact, long after the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, only a few case files have been received by the Commission from the police for prosecution. Incessant transfer of IPOs who are vital witnesses in the prosecution of electoral offenders affects diligent prosecution which leads to several adjournments that end up frustrating their prosecution.”
“The delay in investigation and transmission of case files to the Commission for further action by the police has hindered the successful prosecution of electoral offenders and touched on the several recommendations made by Constitutional Review Committees which need to revisited urgent,” the Commission noted. Speaking during the presentation of the report, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said: “The strength of any public institution lies in its ability to ask critical questions, review its processes, strengthen its procedures for better service delivery and engage with stakeholders.