Members of the civil society organisations (CSOs) and individuals on Sunday vowed to deploy all lawful means to resist the tactical rejection of electronic transfer of election results in the Electoral Act amendment by the National Assembly.
The threats coincided with clarifications by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on the seething anger by Nigerians against the amendment of the Clause 52(3).
Nigerians should insist 2023 poll is internet-compliant – Afenifere
Pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, urged Nigerians to insist that the 2023 elections in the country be made internet-compliant, with the results transmitted electronically, “otherwise, there shall be no elections.”
Its spokesperson, Comrade Jare Ajayi, in a statement, said a corollary to the demand is to restructure the country holistically before the next general election.
“The choice before us as a people is to insist that the next election in the country be made to be as internet-compliant as possible, otherwise, there shall be no elections.
“A corollary to this is that restructuring must take place holistically before the next general election,” he said.
Ajayi said the action of the lawmakers showed that majority of them are not there to serve the people’s interests but that of those they considered as holding the lever of power.
“Announcing or broadcasting elections results via the internet, just like transferring money electronically, is certainly one of the ways for the country to develop technologically. For the National Assembly to vote against it shows that those who voted against it want election malpractices to continue in Nigeria. It is unfortunate,” he said.
Ajayi, however, noted that INEC is in a position to transmit elections results electronically, from the affirmation of the immediate past chairman of the body, Professor Attahiru Jega.
Electronic transfer of results feasible – Telcos
Some telecoms operators in the country have refuted claims by the National Assembly of the country not having the necessary infrastructure in place to transmit elections results electronically.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the operators, who preferred anonymity, said since individuals and corporate organisations could make use of text messages, voice calls and social media in most parts of the country, nothing stops INEC from transmitting elections through electronic means.
“You send messages, isn’t it? Many Nigerians also do this, from different parts of the country. What this tells us, therefore, is that it is very possible to transmit such results electronically. “Agreed, there are still some parts of the country where coverage is 2G, and you know 2G basically does voice, but in most parts of the country, we have 3G, which allows you to send messages, apart from voice calls. So, that means it is possible.
“Even in areas where there are no coverage, they may do manual. The thing is that if they really want to do it, it is not impossible. All the infrastructure needed for electronic transfer is here, it is just to send something electronically, the same way you send WhatsApp messages and mails. Are you saying they don’t send these messages in most parts of the country? They can, but they are not just ready to do it” a source stated.
Another operator said members of the National Assembly must have a hidden agenda to have come up with such assertion.
“The fact remains that we’ve provided the services in terms of infrastructure, so what INEC and the National Assembly do or fail to do with it, is none of our business,” he stated.
We will mobilise Nigerians for the long walk to achieve e-transmission – PDP
The PDP has vowed to do all that is necessary to ensure that Nigerians get their desire to have election results transmitted electronically by 2023. It maintained that it will mobilise Nigerians for what it termed the long walk to achieve electronic transmission against the concession by the INEC that it has the capacity to do so.
National publicity secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, while noting that the APC had not had its way as far as the electronic transmission of result is concerned, Ologbondiyan said: “It is a long walk. They have passed their own version in the Senate. The House has passed it own version too. They will still constitute a committee to harmonise the two positions.
“And don’t forget, INEC has come up also to say it has coverage. So, as we speak now, it’s going to be a long walk and our party, the civil societies and Nigerians are prepared to go this walk in the National Assembly to ensure that Nigerians get what they desire and deserve, which is electronic transmission of results from their base to the collation centre.
“We will do everything required, we will do everything necessary within the confines of the law to ensure that we get electronic transmission of results in 2023.”
CUPP, CHURAC, lawyers kick, reject amendment
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on Sunday said it had resolved to mobilise citizens of the country to resist any plan by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to turn Nigeria into a one-party country and another North Korea. National publicity secretary of CUPP, Mark Adebayo, said the assurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it can transmit results of polls electronically from any part of the country has exposed the lies of the APC and its allies.
“Any plans to shortchange Nigerians on their constitutional and democratic rights shall fail woefully. We call on all Nigerians to remain vigilant and checkmate the politics of domination in order to silence the opposition and freedom of choice being practised by the APC,” he said. National president, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC), Alaowei Cleric, said on Sunday in Warri, Delta State, that Nigerians would test the legality of the amended Section 52(3) at the law courts. The Ijaw-born rights crusader slammed the lawmakers, especially those of the APC for working against the general interest of Nigerians and credible electoral system.
“The position of the Senate subjecting INEC to take directive from the National Communication Commission (NCC) on the coverage of network services in the country is unconstitutional. It’s even worse for the Senate to give approval to the directive of NCC. INEC is a creation of the Constitution. It’s an independent institution which cannot be subjected to any arm of the government,” he said.
Also, the chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Effurun branch, Dr Jonathan Ekperusi, called on Nigerians to petition the United States and the European Union to place a visa ban on members of the National Assembly who voted against electronic transmission of results. He said another option before Nigerians is for them to approach the courts to stop the president’s assent to the amended act. According to him, Nigerians could also resolve to recall their representatives at the National Assembly. A former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Bitrus Kaze, said what took place in the National Assembly was a ploy by the APC to perpetuate itself in power through undemocratic means.
Kaze, who expressed disappointment over the way and manner the leadership of both chambers handled the sensitive issue, claimed that it was obvious that the members were more concern with their political survival than reform that could sanitise electoral system in the country. Fear grips southern NASS members Investigation revealed on Sunday that there is palpable fear among members of the National Assembly from the southern part of the country who voted for the clause to amend the electronic transfer of election results.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the action of the lawmakers’ across the party lines fell short of the expectations of most people from the region. Sensing trouble about their political careers, most of such lawmakers have taken to the social media platforms to explain their individual roles in the controversial clause. It was gathered that most of the aggrieved stakeholders, including opinion leaders in the zone, were taken aback that lawmakers voted against the clause meant to enhance the conduct of free and fair elections and deepen democracy in the country. “This is not a joke, for whatever reason, they have voted against that beautiful clause aimed at enhancing our future electoral processes. Those who voted against the clause are finished politically, unless they will relocate from the zone,” an aggrieved old politician told the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja, on Sunday.
He added: “We are going back to the drawing board in the South-West, South-East and the South-South to mobilise against the affected lawmakers because that was not what the people sent them to the National Assembly to do. Mark my word: we are going to enforce it to the letter; they are finished politically.” Nigerian Tribune gathered that most of the lawmakers might use the Sallah period to engage their constituents on their individual roles in the passage of the Electoral Act. I wasn’t absent at plenary, I walked out – Moro The senator representing Benue South senatorial district, Abba Moro, who was alleged to have been among the absentee senators during the voting exercise, said he was present during the plenary but later walked out. A statement issued by his media aide, Godwin Ameh, said: “To set the record straight, the senator was at the plenary on the day in question. He voted for clause 52(3) when the vote was taken.
“However, along the line, some members of the APC in the Red Chamber, in an attempt to distort laid down principles of plenary procedure, revisited an issue that had already been voted upon and put to rest. “Having observed the body language of some of his colleagues, the distinguished senator could not, in good conscience, sit and watch the brazen abuse of parliamentary procedure. At that point, he decidedly walked out of the chamber.” APC, PDP lawmakers voted against committee recommendation — Lawan Lawan, speaking at the weekend while on a constituency visit to his Yobe North senatorial district, had justified the voting pattern by lawmakers in the Red Chamber.
“In this respect, it was not just APC. I have seen it reported in the media that only APC senators voted against the immediate deployment of electronic transmission. “There are PDP senators who voted against that but it appears that some people want to target APC senators. There were PDP senators who voted against immediate deployment. I’m using the word ‘immediate’ with an emphasis,” he said. Lawan maintained that the rejection of electronic voting was to ensure uniformity in the process of collation of results.
“When the majority of senators voted against immediate application or deployment of electronic transmission of results from the polling units, to the ward, to the local government, states and federal, they didn’t say they do not believe in electronic transmission (of election results). “All of us in the Senate, 109 of us, believe that at one point, our electoral process must deploy electronic transmission so that it eases and enhances the electoral process and gives it more credibility and integrity. “But you see, when you have not reached that stage where you could deploy the electronic transmission from every part of the country, then you have to be very careful.
And no matter what anybody may say, you cannot have about 50 per cent of Nigerian voters not participating or not getting their votes counted in elections and say it doesn’t matter, that we have to start the electronic transmission. “We know the evils of not transmitting results electronically but compare the evils of electronically transmitting just half of the electoral votes from Nigerians and say you have elected a president with 50 per cent only. “And others have voted but their results or their votes could not be electronically transmitted. This is disenfranchising Nigerians and we are not going to support this kind of thing because essentially, we are supposed to be fair to every part of Nigeria and when we voted, every part of Nigeria voted for and against (the amendment).”
Also speaking, the Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Honourable Alhassan Ado Doguwa, described the rowdy session on the floor of the house during the debates on the Electoral Matter and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as democracy in action, adding that it was not an attack by the minority members of the House. Doguwa said the rules and regulations of the House of Representatives had been set, adding that what Nigerians saw on the floor of the National Assembly last week was truly a manifestation of liberal democracy in operation. “The minority will definitely have their say, but the majority cannot be stopped, they will have their way,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 22nd graduation ceremony of El-Amin International School, Minna, Niger State, Doguwa said the Bill on Electoral Matter had been passed by the House of Representatives and now a law of the House as well as the Senate, adding that the lawmakers are only awaiting the assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.