By PUNCH Newspaper
The Atiku Support Organisation has faulted the Senate for its approval of conditional electronic transmission of results during elections in Nigeria.
The group made this known on Friday in a statement jointly signed by its Director-General, Abubakar Babawo; and National Publicity Secretary, El Mo Victor.
The group said electronic transmission of election results is a global practice and, therefore, warned the red chamber of the National Assembly not to “drag Nigeria’s democracy to the mud”, insisting that the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, must be independent.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the Senate on Thursday passed the long-awaited Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The red chamber during a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill also approved the electronic transmission of results during elections, provided that such areas are adjudged by the National Communications Commission to be adequately covered under its national coverage and approved by the National Assembly.
But the Atiku group kicked against the resolutions of the upper chamber in its statement titled, ‘Electronic transfer of election results: Resist the urge to sabotage democracy and perpetuate rigging in Nigeria, Atiku Support Organisation tells the Senate… Only INEC can determine mode of elections’.
The statement read, “The decision of the Senate to transfer INEC’s statutory powers on mode and conduct elections to the Nigerian Communications Commission is unacceptable and by norms, negates the Supreme provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“Elections have dire consequences and are critical to the development of any nation. The model of electronic collation and transmission of results is a template of best global practice and the senate must rescind the urge to sabotage INEC‘s efforts and drag Nigeria’s democracy to the mud.
“Recall that on January 31st, 2018, INEC under Prof. Mahmoud Yakoub struck a deal with NCC’s Prof. Danbatta on the electronic transmission of results. Prof. Danbatta stated clearly that Nigeria has the adequate digital infrastructure to aid INEC’s desire for free and credible polls.
“In August 2018, the two met to reiterate their commitment to this noble course of strengthening Nigeria’s democracy. The meeting, however, does not take away the powers of INEC to decide on the mode of conducting elections and in particular the type of technology to be deployed to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.
“We can not as a nation insists on JAMB registration online, plus people transferring money electronically and then say there is no adequate network coverage for INEC to deploy technology in our elections. If INEC can conduct electronic voting, there is no reason to deter electronic transmission of results. The decision of INEC to transmit results electronically was well thought out and all telecom providers were part of all processes leading to that decision.
“We insist that INEC must be allowed to remain independent and to determine the mode of elections in Nigeria without interferences. If INEC defines that in any part of the country, electronic transmission is not possible, it would by the powers granted the organization determines the most appropriate course of action. NCC has no power under any law to determine INEC’s course of action.
“We call on the senate to be guided by Nigeria’s interest and not selfish interest. We demand out rightly that INEC must be allowed to carry out its constitutional rights and duties to the nation without duress by the Senate.
“We call on Nigerians to rise against enemies of Nigeria in and outside the red chamber and defend our hard-fought democracy. We must not by any means possible allow our powers of the ballot to be taken away from us by enemies of democracy under any guise or pretence.”