2019 General Elections: The Legality of e-Collation and e-Transmission of Results. By: Akinloye NG.

In exercise of the powers conferred by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in Paragraph 15(a) and (j), Part 1 of the Third Schedule and Section 73 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), to organise, undertake, supervise elections into specified positions, INEC prepared and submitted to the president budget estimates for the conduct of the 2019 General Elections which the president in turn laid the proposal before the National Assembly as INEC supplementary part of the 2018 Appropriation Act pursuant to Section 80 (2&3) of the same Constitution.

In the said budget, e- transmission from the Registration Area Centres (e-TRAC) and e-collation with S/N 197, Line Item number 230803, INEC budgeted N5,767,643,580:00 out of which the NASS passed N4,767,642,580:00 and S/N 198, Line Item number 230803 with another N1,975,000:00 out which the NASS passed in whole totalling N5,769,617,580:00 was part of the N189bn passed and subsequently released to INEC after assent by the president

Consequent upon assurance of its budget for the polls, INEC prepared and issued the “REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES FOR THE CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS 2019” as regulations
and guidelines for the conduct of elections (General Elections, Bye-elections, Re-run Elections and Supplementary Elections) which it said shall
supersede all other regulations and/or guidelines on the conduct of elections issued by the Commission and shall remain in force until replaced by new regulations or amendments
supported by a Decision Extract of the Commission or an official gazette.

In the said Regulations and Guidelines, in the following:

i). Clause (c) (x) which says at the close of voting, the Presiding Officer shall transmit the result as prescribed in the Electoral Act;

2). Clause 28 (b) (xv) which says the Registration Area/Ward Collation Officer shall implement the result management procedure with the assistance of the Registration Area Technical support (RATECH) (i.e technical staff at RAC for e-collation and transmission of results)

3). Clause 30 (iv) which says the Local Government/Area Council Collation Officer in-charge of the Presidential Election shall cross-check the totals and entries in the EC 8C with the Collation Support and Result Verification System (CSRVS) staff;

4). Clause 31 (iv) which says the State Collation Officer for the Presidential election shall cross-check the totals and entries in the EC 8D with the Collation Support and Result Verification System (CSRVS) secretariat for computational accuracy; and

5). Clause 32 (a) (iv) which says the Chief Electoral Commissioner, who is the Returning Officer for the Presidential election, shall cross-check the totals and entries in the EC 8D(A) with the Collation Support and Result Verification System (CSRVS) secretariat for computational accuracy, INEC prescribed the manners in which e-collation support of results and cross-checking accuracy of same through computer verification system to satisfy the Section 71 and 73 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

To carry out the above hitch-free, INEC also issued “MANUAL ON ELECTIONS TECHNOLOGIES (Use, Troubleshooting and Maintenance) 2019” for the training on the use and as also guide for its officials on the electronic prescribed form of recording provided for in the guidelines.

In the Manual, INEC in sub-modules 4.1 to 4.3 of Module Four which titled “Using Smart Card Reader for Electronic Collation and Transmission of Results”, specified the objectives, introduction and definition of terms of electronic collation and transmission for the 2019 general elections.

So, with the above provisions of laws, guidelines and manual, the e-collation and e-transmission of the 2019 elections cannot be said not to have been backed by any law or elections guidelines.

And the presiding and collation officers coming out to say that they in addition to manual form, also collated and transmitted results in electronic form in conformity to the guidelines as trained, into INEC web server through sets of password issued to them by INEC for such purposes; and Atiku saying the results of the 2019 presidential election were transmitted to INEC web server are actually holding INEC to account in accordance to the laws, guidelines and manual it used in conduct of the said elections.

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