Fresh alarm over 2019 polls

Posted by Jide Ajani | 30 December 2018 | 1,150 times

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There are fresh fears that owing to pressures from some quarters on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, its Electoral Guidelines being prepared may suffer fidelity as two critical elements, among others, that would guarantee the integrity of the 2019 General Elections may not be included in the manual.

The critical elements include but are not limited to the  transmission of result from the polling unit to a central server in Abuja.

These two elements, according to very dependable INEC sources in Lagos, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, specifically the INEC headquarters and Aso Rock Presidential Villa, are expected to guarantee the transparency of the 2019 General Election.

Firstly, having become very familiar with the shenanigans of Polling Officers, POs, who either swap, edit or re-write results en route to the Ward Collation Centres, the immediate Transmission of the result to a Polling Unit, PU, after certification by political party agents who are to counter-sign the result, would ensure that once the result is transmitted to a central server using the Card Reader, every other step of Collation of result from each PU must reflect the same figures in the result sent to the central server.

Also, the INEC officials at the Ward Collation Centre, the LG level as well as the Federal Constituency/Senate or state level would have simultaneously gotten an alert on their hand-held devices of the same result as transmitted.

Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that once the result is entered into the server, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible for it to be altered.

Interestingly, some political parties had alleged that there were plans by hackers doing the bidding of one of the leading politicians, to disrupt and corrupt the system.   But there was no proof or evidence of such a possibility.

Secondly – and of equal significance – is the public display of result at the PU via the instrumentality of the new  FORM EC60E.

FORM EC60E has provision for the imputation of scores of each candidate of the political parties that would have participated in the election.

It is after the correct scores, as certified and authenticated by the PO in the presence of and counter-signed on the FORM EC60E by the party agents, that the PO will display it for anxious voters who would have participated in the election at the PU.

Therefore, apart from the PO and party agents, members of the public across the country can also have records of the result of their respective PUs which can then be photographed for record purposes.

The intendment of INEC for this noble innovation is to ensure that the PO is made to be accountable regarding the authentication of the result he is presenting at the Ward Collation Centre.

Meanwhile, as INEC continues its preparation of Electoral Guidelines, it has been discovered that the pressure being mounted on the Commission may cause it not to include these two key elements.   The Electoral Guidelines will be the manual for the 2019 elections and it would be used for the training of officers who would participate in the polls.

Any element or procedure that is not contained in the Electoral Guidelines cannot be introduced into the training of electoral officers before, during or after training.

The guidelines would also be an integral document that can be tendered in the event of any infraction on the process leading up to the declaration of results.

Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the very first step in compromising the integrity of polls on election day after voting and counting of votes is the swapping or editing or re-writing of results by POs.

Form EC60E  is an improved version that the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at various public engagements, had  referred to as the people’s FORM EC8A that should be pasted at the polling units.

The Form EC60E allows officials at polling units  to publish the results and scores of candidates at the  units as they appear on the Form EC8 or the election result document signed by the  agents of parties.

In the event that results are not transmitted and Form EC60E  is not used, the 2019 elections may  witness the usual commotion which attends collection  centres and, in the chaos, an edited or re-written FORM EC8A may be smuggled in.

Excerpted from a Vanguard report

Source: News Express

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