The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has responded to an advice given to it by the National Assembly to seek proper legal advice instead of misinforming Nigerians on the independence of INEC to conduct elections.
The National Assembly during the debate on section 52 (3) of the Electoral Amendment Act Bill, dealing with electronic transmission by lawmakers had asked INEC to seek the approval of the NCC before going on with e-transmission of results.
The electoral umpire through its Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday said it did not need the approval of the Nigerian Communications Commission to transmit election results electronically.
The chairman said the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System would replace the Smart Card Reader and Z-pad, adding that it would take care of the challenges of over-voting and double voting.
He also spoke on the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for November 6, saying, “In the next few days, the commission will compile the register of new voters and publish same throughout the state for claims and objections.”
INEC said that the decision of the National Assembly to subject its constitutional power to conduct elections to the NCC is absolutely unconstitutional.
However, speaking at the third quarterly meeting of INEC with media executives in Abuja, the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman (Electoral Operations and Logistic Committee), Okechukwu Ibeanu, said rather than seeking the approval of NCC, INEC had the constitutional mandate to impose duties on NCC in order to achieve the electronic transmission of results.
He said, “That is absolutely unconstitutional. You cannot ask INEC to seek the approval of another agency of government to transmit result electronically when actually INEC has power to impose duties on NCC to achieve electronic transmission of results.
Reacting, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview with newsmen aligned itself with INEC’s position that the election management body did not require approval of the NCC to transfer election results electronically.
He said, “The law establishing INEC gives it powers to set the template for the smooth conduct of elections; it was the same law it used to introduce the card reader which has improved our electoral system.”
On his part the, National Secretary of the APC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said, “INEC is the regulator of political parties; political parties can’t tell it what to do. The APC, as you know, is a law-abiding party; we are always guided by the provisions of the law.”