• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

    Delayed upload of results to INEC portal a flaw to Feb. 25 polls, says Yiaga Africa


    Mar 2, 2023

    The delayed upload of the February 25 election results on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) result viewing portal (IReV) constituted a flagrant disregard of the electoral umpire’s regulations and guidelines, Yiaga Africa has said.

    The non-profit civil society group committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement, said in its post-election monitoring report that the electoral process that led to the declaration by INEC of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the winner was fundamentally flawed by this violation.

    The report signed by the Chair, Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote, Aisha Abdullahi and Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, described the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections as a missed opportunity for Nigerians, as its outcome failed to meet the expectations of the people.

    Although the report commended INEC for producing sensitive materials locally as well as deploying the materials early to the states, Yiaga Africa noted that the election day processes were fraught with widespread logistical challenges, which saw the late arrival of polling officials and late opening of polling units across the country, particularly in the South East and South-south geopolitical zones.

    Other challenges that undermined public confidence in INEC and the overall outcome of the elections, the report said, included serious logistical and technological shortcomings, non-compliance with electoral guidelines, lack of transparency, and manipulation of election results by INEC officials.

    Yiaga Africa had deployed 3,014 observers in pairs to a representative random sample of 1,507 polling units, 822 mobile observers in all 774 local government areas in the 36 states and the FCT to enable it provide timely and accurate information on the election day process, including set-up, voter accreditation, voting, counting of votes and uploading of results to the IRev.

    The report said the late opening of polling units, which resulted in the late commencement of accreditation and voting, varied across the geo-political zones, with 44 percent of its sampled polling units commencing accreditation and voting across the country by 9:30 am.

    About 46 percent of the polling units in the North-Central and North-East zones, 44 percent in the North West, and 63 percent in the South-West zone had commenced accreditation and voting.

    The report said more pronounced delays were observed in the South-East and South-South zones, where only 11 percent of polling units in the South-East zone and 32 percent in the South-South zone commenced at the time.

    The report said several polling units were not opened on election day, including 20 of its 1,507 sampled polling units deployed across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory were marred by logistical challenges.

    The INEC failed to redeploy and conduct elections in 13 of its 20 sampled polling units distributed across Adamawa, Taraba, Jigawa, Katsina, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, and Delta states.

    “INEC’s inability to conduct elections in those polling units denied voters the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

    “Yiaga Africa notes that the integrity of electoral outcomes is influenced by processes and procedures. Therefore, a compromised process will produce questionable outcomes.

    “In the course of the election, Yiaga Africa expressed concerns about the delay in uploading polling unit results for the presidential election on the INEC Election Results Viewing Portal (IReV),” the report said.

    Voters, the report said, encountered difficulties with locating polling units assigned to them by INEC following the migration of voters to polling units, while the deployment of security forces were observed at 88 percent of the polling units.

    In addition to a shortfall in the supply of sensitive and non-sensitive materials such as ballot papers, indelible ink and result sheets, the report said 99 percent of the polling units where the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) were deployed, were used throughout the day for the accreditation of voters.

    Where 89 percent of polling units had the BVAS functioning properly, the report said 8 percent of the polling units which the equipment malfunctioned were fixed, with 2 percent of the polling units, which had malfunctioned BVAS replaced.

    On misconduct at the polling units, the report said voters in about 6 percent of the polling units faced intimidation, harassment or assault., with another 6 percent of polling units having situations identified as likely voter inducement.

    On polling units level results transmission, the report said the Presiding Officers in 83 percent of polling units used the BVAS to scan/take a snapshot of the results sheet (Form EC 8A), while others in 69 percent of polling units attempted to transmit/send the polling unit result image to the INEC’s online database (IReV).

    In terms of inconsistencies in election results announced by INEC at the end of the polls, Yiaga Africa said state-level presidential results for Imo and Rivers were inconsistent with its monitoring projections for both states.

    For Rivers, the report said while INEC announced 231,591 votes for APC or 44.2%; 175,071 for LP or 33.4%; and 88,468 for PDP or 16.9%, these figures contrasted sharply to its estimates for Rivers State, with the APC recording 21.7%; LP 50.8%; and for PDP 22.2%.

    Also, for Imo, whereas INEC announced 66,406 for APC, or 14.2%; 360,495 for LP or 77.1%; and 30,234 for PDP or 6.5%, these figures were at variance with the Yiaga Africa estimates for the state, namely APC 5.1; LP 88.1%; and PDP 5.7%.

    Part of its preliminary recommendations contained in the report called for a comprehensive audit and investigation on what led to the delay in the upload of election results on the online portal, adding that persons found complicit in sabotaging critical aspects of the election should be sanctioned.

    Other recommendations included the need to clarify the inconsistencies in some of the results announced by INEC, especially Presidential election results from Rivers and Imo states.

    The report also called for the introduction of legal timelines for testing new electoral technologies to be deployed in the country’s electoral legal framework in future.

    The groups also called for clarifications on the interpretation of key aspects of the legal framework on issues like results collation and transmission process, the threshold for determining the winner in an election, and the power of INEC to review election results declared under duress or in contravention of the Electoral Act, INEC guidelines and Manual.

    The report also called on INEC to sustain the uploads of polling unit results in Form EC8A on its IReV portal.

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