By Sylvester Udemezue
✔️What is IReV?
“According to INEC, the portal [the Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV)] allows members of the public to view copies of election results as compiled, recorded and endorsed at the polling units upon the conclusion of voting at an election. A newly introduced form (Form EC60E) which is a poster version of the primary result sheet (Form EC8A) is posted at a conspicuous place13 in the polling unit after results are counted and announced.14 In addition to this, a copy of the Form EC8A will be uploaded to the INEC portal.15 The purpose of the IReV is to provide real-time transmission of election results from polling units to the central collation centre. It was designed to enhance the transparency of the electoral process and reduce the incidence of vote rigging and election result manipulation. The IReV platform allows voters and other interested parties to monitor the electoral process and to view the results of ongoing elections in real-time.The portal provides pictures of the election results (Form EC8A) from each polling unit, including the number voters accredited and the number of votes cast for each candidate and the percentage of total votes cast.16… The introduction of the IReV is a step in the right direction towards improving Nigeria’s elections. Under the Electoral Act, 202218 and the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022, provide that the results of all elections held under the Act must be uploaded from the BVAS to the IReV direct from the polling units on the day of the election,19 for public viewing.”
✔️ What is BVAS?
“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) is an electronic device designed by INEC’s inhouse engineers11 and used in reading Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and authenticate voters –using the voters’ fingerprints – in order to prove that they are eligible to vote at a particular polling unit. BVAS usage entails either scanning the barcode/QR code on the PVC/Voter’s register or entering the last six digits of the Voter Identity Number or typing in the last name of the voter by the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO 1) to verify and authenticate the voter.The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu tries to explain the device: ‘When the commission introduced BVAS last year, the compact device was intended to achieve two objectives. First is the verification of the genuineness of the PVCs and the fingerprint or facial authentication of voters during accreditation. Secondly, to replace the Z-pad for uploading the polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on election day.” BVAS also acts as the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) during voter registration. Its usage has also eliminated the use of incident forms during accreditation on an election day.12′”
[See: Sylvester Udemezue, “Legal Safeguards for Credible Management of Post-Ballot Processes In Nigerian Elections Under the Electoral Act 2022” (March 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4393989 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4393989>].
For more details about Newswire Law&Events Magazine, kindly reach out to us on 08039218044, 09070309355. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be glad you did
✔️Electronic Transmission Is A Mandatory Part of Nigeria’s Electoral Process Under the Electoral Act 2022
Please see the paper: “Legal Safeguards for Credible Management of Post-Ballot Processes In Nigerian Elections Under the Electoral Act 2022” (cited supra). See also the judgment delivered on 24 March 2023 in the case of NURUDEEN v. OYETOLA (unreported Appeal No: CA/AK/EPT/GOV/01/2023), the Nigerian Court of Appeal affirmed that electronic transmission of election results is mandatory under the Electoral Act 2022 and that also gave a clear hint about the Provisions of Electoral Act on the material/mandatory time for e-transmission of election results under the Electoral Act 2022. The court held (Per Shuaibu, JCA in the lead judgment delivered on 24 March 2023, at pages 35-36) as follows:
“BVAS is a device used to to register voters. It accredits voters before voting on election day and is used for transmitting results to INEC viewing portal after voting. Thus it helps to scan the barcode or QR on the PVC or voters register before voting. Note that BVAS does not require internet connectivity during voting but it requires internet when transmitting results to the INEC portal. In the light of the foregoing, it is correct to say that there are dual mode of transmission of results under the extant Electoral Act, 2022. After close of poll at level of various units where the presiding officer would enter the scores of various political parties in Form EC8A (Polling Unit Result) in which he sign that particular result and counter signed by party agents, the result will then be scanned and uploaded to the INEC result viewing portal for public viewing. It’s also at that point the accreditation data that has arisen from that polling unit will also be uploaded, but the physical result, the BVAS result will also be taken to the Registration Area Collation Centre. At the Collation Centre, *the Collation Officer will at this point have the benefit of seeing the original result and BVAS report *and the the accreditation data as transmitted and the result sheet sheet from the polling unit”.* For those who refuse to accept that electronic transmission is mandatory under the Electoral Act 2022, the Court of Appeal has now made it clear for the deaf to hear and the blind to see that election management is not business-as-usual under the Electoral Act 2022. INEC itself knows that electronic transmission of results is mandatory as it had prior to the election acknowledged, admitted, confessed and declared on several occasions. See the following as examples, among many instances:
See EVIDENCE THAT INEC KNEW AND ACKNOWLEDGED THAT ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS ON ELECTION DAY, IS MANDATORY:
Prior to the elections, INEC had declared, acknowledged, admitted, confessed on several occasions that it must electronically transmit the results ON ELECTION DAY, FROM THE POLLING UNIT, and not thereafter. See the following as examples, among many instances:
✔️(1) The Press Release on INEC’s website, titled “Electronic Transmission & Collation Of Results” which comes under
the general heading “2023 General Election Updates” and published by INEC on its own website
(https://main.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=11312) wherein INEC gave a step-by-step explanation of the procedure for the conduct of the then-upcoming elections, especially the procedure for collation of the election results, and stating EXPRESSLY that e-transmission of all election results was a mandatory/necessary part of the process in line with the provisions of both the Electoral Act and the Regulations and Guidelines for Conduct of Elections 2022;
✔️(2). Besides, INEC’s duly authorized officials, including the Chairman himself, made several radio and TV appearances on each of which occasions INEC gave firm assurances to Nigerians on the e-transmission of election results directly from the polling units. There were also several public statements issued by INEC to the same effect;
✔️(3). Furthermore, on February 07, 2023, on its verified Twitter handle, INEC was found to have written as follows: “The Chairman of the Commission… expressed satisfaction with the optimal performance of the BVAS in all the States of the Federation. The use of the BVAS for voter verification and authentication is a mandatory provision of section 47(2) of the Electoral Act and every registered voter must undergo the process of accreditation. The Commission will also upload polling unit-level results (Form EC8A) and the accreditation data to the INEC Result Viewing Portal. This is also a mandatory provision of sections 50, 60, and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022. For the 2023 general elections, the Commission will recruit 707,384 Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers, about 17,685 Supervisory Presiding Officers, 9,620 Collation/Returning Officers as well as 530,538 PU Security Officials, making a total of 1,265,227” [See: https://twitter.com/inecnigeria/status/1622829482540146688?lang=en]. Moreover, there were/are several other instances and pieces of evidence that INEC was confessedly/demonstrably ready for the election with all personnel, materials and equipment;
✔️(4). What is more? There was an allegation in early November 2022, made publicly, that INEC was conspiring with some people to jettison the e-transmission of election results in real-time. INEC had immediately come out to publicly debunk the allegation, assuring Nigerians that all results of the 25 February 2023 elections, must be e-transmitted direct from the polling units to the iReV, on the election day. See: ”2023: INEC Denies Plan To Jettison Electronic Results Transmission” The statement issued by its spokesman, Festus Okoye, on 11 November 2022, read:
“Our attention has been drawn to reports in a section of the media of alleged plans by the Commission to rig the 2023 General Election by abandoning the direct and real-time electronic upload of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal by the Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATECHSS). The claim is patently false. The Commission has repeatedly reassured Nigerians that it will transmit results directly from the polling units as we witnessed in Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections and 103 more constituencies where off-cycle Governorship/FCT Area Council elections and bye-elections were held since August 2020. The results can still be viewed on the portal. The IReV is one of the innovations introduced by the Commission to ensure the integrity and credibility of election results in Nigeria. It is therefore inconceivable that the Commission will turn around and undermine its own innovations.” [See: https://thewillnews.com/2023-inec-denies-plan-to-jettison-electronic-results-transmission/]
Unfortunately, INEC breached all promises, subverted all laws and truncated the entire Electoral Process when on 25 February 2022, it shut down the iReV which took away the integrity of the process in that it enabled manipulation of results. Could it not therefore be said that with their dance-naked-on-street outing on 25 February 2023, INEC, its chairman and those they plotted with, have shown that power doesn’t corrupt people, it’s people that corrupt power. Thus, as William Gaddis once wrote, it’s as if “Cruel leaders are replaced only to have the new leaders turn cruel”. In my opinion, corruption of the rule of law, as INEC and its cohorts have done, is much worse than any other form of corruption and crime because in all countries of the world which operate under the rule of law, it is for politics to be adapted to the laws of the land and not for the laws to be adopted to politics. It is possible that the allegation in early November 2022 (that INEC had perfected plans to jettison the use of the BVAS and the IReV as required by law) was true, while INEC’s denial was both insincere and dishonest. Else, how could anyone explain that INEC, after collecting about N350,000,000,000 (three hundred and fifty billion Naira) from the Federation Account to enable it conduct an election whose most crucial, important, fundamental and essential feature was direct electronic transmission of all results from the polling units, could turn around to suddenly, right in the middle of the game, jettison e-transmission of election results, without any prior notice to Nigerians and without previously applying to get the Electoral Act 2022 amended to render e-transmission DIRECTORY instead of MANDATORY? All available piece of evidence point to one direction, namely — that INEC just surreptitiously overruled the National Assembly on the mandatory e-transmission of election results, by suddenly unilaterally jettisoning its duty on mandatory e-transmission. Something is fishy; there appears to be much more to this than meets the ordinary eye. Perhaps, judging from the above, one could reasonably now say that it should not be much of a surprise that there were widespread calls for outright cancellation or review of the election, even before a winner was announced on 01 March 2023, on the grounds that the election was riddled with malpractices and substantial non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the election. So, it’s not any wonder that people are expressing their anger, including but not limited to the calls that the declared winner shouldn’t be sworn in until the disputes are resolved in court. How such natural expression of opinions and frustrations could be treated or described as an incitement or a call for or a plot to install, an interim government, is difficult to understand. Well, this reminds me of the propaganda concept/tool known as GASLIGHTING an aspect of which happens when people begin to pretend you’re the bad person so that they don’t feel guilty about or so that they escape being held accountable, for the shitty things they have done to you; when people try to paint you bad only because you’re expressing how you feel, so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their ugly behaviour. Well, as Bob Marley one said, “one can fool some people sometimes, all the people sometimes, but never all the people all the time”. Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Sylvester Udemezue (Udems)