How INEC Leaves Room That Politicians Can Exploit To Manipulate 2023 Elections

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After several days, the electoral body made an inane statement, in response to this revelation without denying it, a plan that if not reversed will make or mar the 2023 elections.

Since SaharaReporters broke the news of how Nigerians will not be allowed to view in real-time polling units’ results simultaneously uploaded by presiding officers, the Independent National Electoral Commission has been silent on the issue.

After several days, the electoral body made an inane statement, in response to this revelation without denying it, a plan that if not reversed will make or mar the 2023 elections.

This administrative decision that is currently practised violates section 60(4)(5) of the 2022 Act which states, unequivocally, that “The presiding officer shall transfer the results including the total number of accredited voters…” in the manner prescribed by the Commission, an administrative decision INEC leadership wants to exercise for the political interest of the highest bidder and not that of the people of Nigeria that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu claims they are loyal to and will serve.

The election management body (EMB) finally issued an official statement last Friday, but danced around the issue and merely assured that BVAS (Bimodal Voter Accreditation System) and IREV (Result Viewing Portal) will be used but failed to answer the main question of whether Nigerians will be given access to view simultaneously and real-time uploaded polling units’ results and not after validation by RATECHs (Registration Area Technical Support) at ward level. This is the big question INEC is yet to answer and make clear to Nigerians.

SaharaReporters deliberately withheld some vital information and documentary evidence in its first report, hoping that if INEC leadership is honest to the Nigerian people and the international community, it will leverage or use the first report to align itself with the Nigerian people’s desire to view their uploaded polling units results simultaneously as uploaded at polling units without having to wait for validation at ward collation centres. But instead, the INEC official report tried to deflect from the substance of SaharaReporters’ report when it rather referred to it as “some media report” (SaharaReporters) that INEC will abandon the use of BVAS and IREV.

To be clear, SaharaReporters did not report that these innovations will be jettisoned but reported that they (BVAS and IREV) will be used as repeatedly assured by INEC. However, Nigerians will not be allowed to view uploaded polling results in real-time simultaneously as uploaded at polling units by presiding officers, but after these results have been vetted at ward collation centres by RATECHs. That was the report SaharaReporters’ investigation into the activities of INEC put out and thus challenged Prof Yakubu to speak to Nigerians about this dangerous dimension which is outside the law. SaharaReporters learnt that it makes results that have been declared in the presence of party agents and voters at polling units vulnerable to manipulation but INEC has refused to speak unequivocally to Nigerians about the dangerous dimension after over a week.

More Revelations About INEC Results Upload

SaharaReporters has detailed revelation and explanations from insiders who are concerned that the dream of a new Nigeria will be aborted by 2023 if their own Commission refuses to allow Nigerians to view simultaneously and in real-time polling units results instead of waiting for RATECHs validation which is the stage at which political actors with leverage inside INEC are planning to rig the 2023 elections.

Compromised RATECHs at the ward level will upload pre-written EC8A cooked-up additional votes different from the results from the polling units. Some INEC insiders confirmed as SaharaReporters had previously and several times revealed to Nigerians that Prof Yakubu has been fully blackmailed with the ongoing threat of a CCTB to retain a procedure that was used during the pilot stage of polling units’ results transmission. This is what is planned for the 2023 elections that will definitely spell doom for Nigeria if this technical caveat that INEC is trying to introduce is allowed to stand. President Buhari will be recorded as having presided over Nigeria when the elections that brought doom for Nigeria were conducted and if those forces controlling Prof Yakubu, who is struggling for his safety, are not tamed. That is why INEC has refused to commit publicly to Nigerians that it will grant access to real-time viewing of polling units results as uploaded without having to wait for validation by RATECHs before the voting public can view the results.

Current Practice Despite Section 60 (5) Of The Act

SaharaReporters can authoritatively reveal to Nigerians that contrary to what they have been made to believe about the upload of results from the polling units, investigation reveals that the result viewed by Nigerians in the recent isolated elections are results that were first sent to the central server of INEC (recall that server existence was denied in 2019) then RATECHs who have been given access codes will validate the polling units’ results before they are sent to the public results view portal viewed by Nigerians as if it’s real-time.

The present practice does not allow the public to see the uploaded result at the polling units until they are validated by the Collation Officer/RATECH. This is the current practice and it is a real danger that INEC never disclosed to Nigerians.

This is a potential window for manipulation that was used during the Anambra Governorship election last year at (Abatete Ward) in the Idemili North and also used during Ngor Okpala’s House of Assembly bye-election in lmo and Cross River states respectively. The decision that uploaded polling units’ results should not be viewed by Nigerians until validation by RATECHs, many of whom will be recruited for INEC by politicians as ad hoc staff to validate these polling units’ results at the 8,809 wards before Nigerians can view the results is a very weak link in the process.

This window of opportunity is what will be used to rig the 2023 elections. This plan should be rejected by all political parties and presidential candidates. Nigerians will know the planned beneficiary if they see their proxies or agents advocating for it. All presidential candidates should forget about the 2023 elections if INEC is not compelled to abandon this rigging plan that will spell doom for Nigeria in 2023. According to these insiders at INEC, the idea of validation before the public view was used as a pilot scheme to ensure that if a presiding officer makes a mistake on EC8A result, it will be corrected at the ward level to avoid embarrassment without public knowledge. But as good as the idea suggested during a pilot of the upload system, insiders in INEC have all confirmed to SaharaReporters that no such mistake has been observed to warrant adopting the validation of uploaded polling units results before Nigerians could view the same on the results viewing portal. This is more so given that at the polling units, there are party agents, voters, observers and security personnel. Also, party agents under section 61 have a right to demand a recount at the polling units such that the likelihood of an envisaged mistake is unlikely and insufficient to deny Nigerians simultaneous real-time access to viewing uploaded polling units’ results.

This initial scheme during the piloting of not allowing the public to view the Real-Time uploaded polling units results until after validation by collation officers and RATECHs at ward levels is now the only viable option left to election riggers to change the outcome of elections.

Dangers From The Idemili North (Abatete Ward) And Idemili South Anambra

SaharaReporters has decided to use (Abatete Ward) in ldemilli LGA  to demonstrate the veracity of our report by asking Nigerians to Google the INEC results portal and sign in with their email address. You will see various categories of recent elections (Governorship, Senatorial/House of Assembly, etc. conducted recently. Click on the Anambra Governorship election of 2021. Then click on ldemili North LGA. You will see all wards that constitute that LGA and click on Abatete (Ward) to view all the 36 polling units’ results and see how Abatete RATECH uploaded something completely different. EC8A pre-written allocated fake and false polling unit results to the public results view portal different from the actual polling units’ election results.

Take a careful look at the pattern of votes allocation and the main beneficiary. It was the uncooperative ward collation officer who rejected the entire invidious results uploaded by RATECHs at various wards in several LGAs and uploaded that saved the 2021 Anambra Governorship election from being given to the APC.

“The pattern of votes allocation to the political parties that contested the election clearly revealed the political party that is the beneficiary which is APC in a state governed by APGA ruling state. They are the same people now behind the decision not to allow Nigerians to view real-time and simultaneously as polling units results are uploaded until after RATECHs validation at ward collation cheese. In the last lmo States, Ngor Okpala State House of Assembly, RATECHs were used to upload pre-written EC8A results that did not emanate from polling units and this is the ground plan for the 2023 elections that Nigerians must reject otherwise this country will be on fire after the election and different outcome declared by Professor Yakubu.

“Nigerians should launch into the INEC result portal and see the damage hugely compromised RATECHs could do to the electoral process in 2023 if voters are not allowed to view simultaneously uploaded polling units results in form EC8A up to the ward level and also allowed to view collated results of EC8B (Ward result) on the result view portal. Nigerians can see a specimen of the pre-written form EC8A result uploaded by RATECHs and you can see and view more on the portal link about how the power to validate was used to undermine the process.

If all Nigerians are allowed to view uploaded results from polling units down to the ward and local government agency, Immediately, RATECH will ever upload different forms EC8A at Ward. In the Anambra Governorship election in 2021, it was the integrity of the Abatete collation officer that saved the election from being stolen but in a general election on February 25 across Nigeria, this will be difficult to monitor except Nigerians are allowed to view the portal simultaneously as the EC8A result at polling units (votes scored by candidates and number of accredited voters) are uploaded and tracked up to the ward centres, until they are collated on to EC8B result sheet that must also be uploaded to the results view portal. Non-view of uploaded polling units results until after validation by RATECHs will facilitate the subversion of the will of the people expressed at polling units. This possible weak link is what Prof Mahmoud Yakubu is using to negotiate his freedom from the ongoing Code of conduct tribunal matter against him.

SaharaReporters can confirm based on its investigation that the innovations in INEC can deliver a credible election that we all can be proud of only if INEC officials will not compromise a detailed study of the process in conclusion. Only compromise will derail the commission.  Nigerians who have brothers or friends in the INEC ICT department can confirm the undeniable report of SaharaReporters about the current position of INEC that must be reversed on the issue of transmission of polling units results.

Since SaharaReporters broke the news, no key official of INEC like Professor Yakubu, the National Commissioners, and not even the newly appointed Director of ICT, Mr Paul Omokore has appeared publicly to deny this irrefutable revelation.

The Commission’s leaders have decided to send two civil servants to Channels and AIT, Deputy Directors they knew cannot make any binding statement on behalf of INEC to defend the issue. When one of the Deputy Directors was questioned by the AIT Democracy Today anchor person, ljeoma Osamor monitored by SaharaReporters on whether Nigerians should take whatever she said as binding on INEC. She retreated saying she is not the Chairman of INEC. Similarly, Mr Rotimi Oyekumi, the personal press Secretary of Professor Mahmoud Yakubu was put forward to clarify a weighty policy matter that is beyond his duty.

Nigerians never took his assurances because he is unknown to the organogram of the electoral management body, INEC and completely unknown and cannot make a binding commitment on behalf of INEC. Worse still was the official statement released on Friday and signed by National Commissioner Mr Festus Okoye. While reassuring Nigerians of the use of the BVAS and the IREV which are not the real issues saying uploading of polling Units results will be real-time, the statement did not say that Nigerians will simultaneously view the uploaded results in real-time which is the real issue of concern to Nigerians.

This is the observation many Nigerians have pointed out as missing from the official statement. For example, a link sent to guests on the Zoom programme does not give automatic access even if it is logged in until the host allowed access. The fact that Nigerians can use their personal identity to register with the INEC result view portal does not give them automatic access to view Real Time uploaded polling unit results as promised. INEC under Prof Yakubu should be honest with the Nigerian people but rather he is loyal to those who appointed him and are on his neck, insisting that the person are to allow Nigerians view uploaded polling results in real-time simultaneously as they are uploaded at the polling units, not until RATECHs at Ward levels have collated and possibly altered or substituted them as in Anambra, lmo and Cross River bye-elections to suit partisan vested predetermined outcomes. This is the real danger.

Source: SaharaReporters