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Server Controversy: INEC staff indict management

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Several officials who said they were deployed as electoral officers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 presidential election said they transmitted results electronically to a ‘central server’ through smart card readers.

This they said was done in compliance with the directive given by the commission during a three-day training before the polls.

The 20 officials deployed to various states, who mostly worked as presiding officers, said they were told that there was a “central server in Abuja” where results are collated electronically.

It is not immediately clear on which “central Server” the officials admitted to transmitting results but this has added a new twist to the ongoing confusion trailing INEC’s consistent denial that it used no server for the election.

A manual issued to the electoral officials by INEC for the 2019 election revealed that the “Communicate” icon on the Smart Card Reader should be used to transmit the accreditation data to the central server.

Another handbook for election officials in 2018 was however more précise on how presiding officers should use the card readers for electronic collation and transmission of results.

It said it became necessary to apply technology to transmit data and results from the polling units due to irregularities that take place after the voting process.

“After successfully filling the EC8A result sheet and announcing the result, the presiding officer shall tap the e-collation application on the home screen”, a part of the book read.

Backstory

The runner up in February’s presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the election tribunal.

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Determining whether the commission operated a central computer database that received election results has become central to the dispute after Mr Abubakar said results obtained from the server proved he won the election with 1.6 million votes to defeat Mr Buhari.

But INEC has strongly denied the claim, saying it neither transmitted results electronically nor saved them on any server. It said such activities were not permitted by the electoral law yet. The commission also accused Mr Abubakar of circulating fake results.

CONTRADICTIONS

Following the controversy over the veracity of INEC’s position on not using a central database, PREMIUM TIMES randomly interviewed about twenty electoral officers who worked in various states during the election.

While most of them admitted to sending the results electronically using the internet enabled smart card readers as directed, the rest said they only sent the number of accredited voters and rejected votes, “to the central server”.

Some of the officials, who requested to speak anonymously for fear of victimisation, said they were instructed to turn in the card readers after sending the results.

“INEC asked us to paste the result sheet and also send them electronically through the card reader,” a serving corps member who worked as an ad-hoc staff at Ido Local Government of Oyo State said.

“The results, as we were told, were sent into a central server in Abuja. The results can’t be more than the accredited voters on the card reader. It will reject it… You can’t submit your card reader without posting the results.”

Gbenga Oladayo, an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) in Ipetumodu area of Osun State, described INEC’s denial as ‘contrived’.

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“They told us there’s a server that automatically records the number of accredited voters, cancelled votes and rejected voters.”

The APO2 for polling unit 023 at Maryland, Kosofe Local government in Lagos corroborated this.

“We did that as we were told during the training. I was shocked when I also saw the news that INEC claims that there is no server.”

‘How we handled results’

An ad-hoc staffer for PU8, Ode Ajibade Ward, Ilorin East Local Government, Ode Ajibade in Kwara State explained how they handled the results as instructed.

“We were instructed, in line with the guidelines, to record the results on form EC8A and paste at the polling unit and also transmit the result via the electronic card readers through the e-collation option, and this was communicated to us during training. The revision was done by ‘RAC TECH’ guys too.

“The challenge we had was bad network. However, we ended up transmitting the results via the electronic card readers when we got to the collation centre. You must send the results before submitting the card readers.”

When asked where the results were transmitted to, he said he believe ”it’s to the central server”.

“Not only were the results sent. Figures regarding accredited voters were also transmitted. I did all these as the PO, and I also had an APO (VP).”

Another ad-hoc staffer for PU10, Ologbenla ward, Ifetedo Local Government, Osun State gave a similar account.

But the Presiding Officer (PO) at PU002, Ward 8, Agege Local Government of Lagos State disputed this.

He said ”they were not directed to do anything with the result”.

Hitches

Others who spoke said they experienced hitches in sending the results to the “central server” due to network challenges.

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Ayo Aderibigbe, the P.O for Kware Local government in Sokoto State said during the training, said, “We were told to press the ‘send’ button on the card reader after the voting and the counting has been done.”

“They told us it would automatically get to them. But on Election Day, it was not going through because of the poor network, and after trying for hours, we paid one of the INEC technical officers at the local government, Raphael. He promised to help us upload this to the server when it was less congested,” Mr Aderigbe, a corps member, said.

Another corps member, who was the P.O at PU 022 ward 2 of Jos South local government In Plateau State, had a similar experience.

“I could not sleep that night. The issues most people had was the network. The network was not responding.”

But Collins, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University on election duty at PU008 of Fajuyi hall, Ile-Ife in Osun State said the network was “okay”.

“At exactly 1:40 p.m. that day, we sent the necessary information that should be sent via the card reader. I was shocked by INEC’s denial.”

Conundrum of INEC laws

details of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections, and the spending plan shows the electoral body collected N1.47 billion from the federal government for servers.

But a spokesperson for the commission, Festus Okoye, told this Newspaper that the budget for servers was made in anticipation that President Buhari would sign the amended Electoral Act to allow electronic transfer of voting results.

NEWS

Gunmen Kill two NSCDC Personnel, Two others in Imo

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Unidentified Gunmen have killed two personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Imo and two persons working on a telecommunications mast.

Commandant of the NSCDC in Imo, Mr Matthew Ovye who confirmed this to newsmen in Owerri on Monday said that the incident occured at Umulolo community, Ngor Okpala council area of the state.

He gave the names of the NSCDC personnel to include Sixtus Onwusirike, an Assistant Superintendent 2 and Simon Simon, a Corps Assistant.

He said that the four men were gunned down in what appeared to be a surprise attack at the Eke Isu market of the Umulolo community adding that security operatives had taken over the area.

He also said that the NSCDC personnel were riding in a vehicle when they were ambushed and killed by their attackers “without any form of provocation “.

“ It’s a black Monday for us but we are on it. It’s rather unfortunate. Relevant security agencies have swung into action and the culprits will soon be brought to book,” he said.

He however, advised residents of the area to avoid taking laws into their hands as security agencies were already on the top of their game.

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When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer in Imo, Mr Henry Okoye also confirmed the incident and promised that security operatives would fish out the culprits in no time . (NAN) 

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CRIME

Police Arrest 781 Offenders over Electoral Infractions 

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja 

The Inspector General of Police(IGP),Usman Alkali Baba, has said a total of 781 electoral offenders were arrested in the just concluded 2023 general elections across the country from a total of 489 major electoral infractions.

He disclosed this on Monday, at the meeting with Strategic Police Managers of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja.

The meeting aimed at evaluating Police performance during the 2023 General elections, highlight lessons and strengths, and dissect complex dynamics for subsequent optimal performance drew participants from across the country.

 

The participants  present at the meeting comprised of  the Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs) and members of the Force Management Team, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), Commissioners of Police (CPs) and other Tactical Commanders.

Baba at the accession, tasked all commands to submit casefiles centrally at the Electoral Offences Desk located at the  Office of the IGP at the  Force Headquarters in Abuja, for coordinated processing to INEC Legal Section.

According to him, the Police Force would effectively collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expeditiously and transparently prosecute the 781 electoral offenders apprehended.

The Police boss, also charged the Strategic Police Managers to readjust strategies and operations towards ensuring a stable post-election security order and refocus policing attention on routine law enforcement duties.

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“I firmly admonish all political actors and their supporters to submit to democratic norms, peaceful means, and legal procedures in advancing their interests as the Police and other security agencies shall not tolerate the resort to incitement or any act designed to threaten our national security”, he said.

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NEWS

Plateau Guber: Tribunal Grant Nentawe, Mutfwang Permission to Inspect Election Materials

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos 

The All Progressive Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate in Plateau State, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda has gotten the approval of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal setting in Jos the Plateau State Capital to inspect materials used in the 18 March, 2023 governorship election in Plateau State.

 

The Media Officer of the Generation Next, Shittu Bamaiyi in a statement signed and made available to Journalists yesterday in Jos said “the governorship Election petition tribunal sitting in Jos gave ruling this morning, after hearing the two applications moved by Nentawe’s Counsel.

In a motion exparte and motion on notice; the Counsel, Jim Gotom told the tribunal that his motion is supported by a six paragraph affidavit he placed reliance on all of them.

And further hinted that a written address was attached to the affidavit with legal arguments and decided cases to back his application.

Counsel to the applicant applied for leave and order of the Tribunal to permit Nentawe, his lawyers and agents to inspect election materials such as “Tendered voters list, Electoral material Receipt, Ballot Paper Account and Verification Statement.”

Other materials demanded to be inspected include, “statement of Invalid, Rejected and Cancelled Ballot Papers, Statement of Unused and Spoilt Ballot Papers,Tendered Ballot statement, Results of Poll from Polling units, Summary of Results for Local government areas, Summary of Results for the State and Summary/Declaration of Results for candidates.”

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Gotom also requested that his client be permitted to inspect the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the Back End Server Report from the BVAS for all the polling Units and other relevant documents used by the Commission.

Meanwhile the Governor-Elect Barr. Caleb Mutfwang has also filled a similar motion and application for leave of the Tribunal to also carry out similar exercise as requested by the APC on his emergence which has been granted concurrently.

Mutfwang through his Counsel, Kingsley Mallan sought the Tribunal to allowed his client inspect materials used for the March 18th governorship election also as requested by the APC.

Counsel to INEC, Elekwa Oyemauche in his submission stressed that the prayers contained in all the applicants applications are the same and therefore should be consolidated to save the Tribunal’s time.

The Tribunal in her ruling granted the application and prayers of the parties and ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should give them access to jointly inspect the materials.

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