The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has responded to allegations that it did not adhere to the Electoral Act 2022 and its own guidelines regarding the mode of result collation in the last presidential election.
It is an indication of the legal argument that it intends to present at the Presidential Election Tribunal.
INEC’s stance was in response to a petition submitted by the Action Peoples Party (APP) to the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) in Abuja.
The APP is contesting the result of the presidential election and Bola Tinubu’s declaration as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the grounds of alleged substantial non-compliance with the electoral laws of Nigeria and violation of INEC guidelines.
In a response to the lawsuit filed by one of the parties, the APP, INEC, through one of its counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), insisted that the February 25 elections were free and fair.
One of the documents presented to the tribunal stated, “The election was free, fair, credible, and in accordance with the constitution, the Electoral Act, 2022, and other relevant laws and guidelines.” The APP alleged that INEC had violated its own laws and regulations.
Citing paragraphs 50 to 55 of the regulations and guidelines for the conduct of the 2023 presidential election, INEC rejected the party’s claim that results collation would be performed electronically.
“The third respondent (INEC) lacked a collation system to which polling unit results were mandated to be transmitted by presiding officers…
In the presidential election, the prescribed method of collation was a manual collation of the numerous forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D, and EC8E, the electoral umpire stated in its defence.
It also denied allegations that its officials altered election results to favour the candidate of a particular political party or that there was over-voting.
It added that its online result viewing portal became unstable at the time of collation and that members of its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) team were brought in to fix the issue, which is why the presidential results were not uploaded immediately.
“It was observed that while the result sheets for the Senate and House of Representatives elections were successfully uploaded through the e-transmission system to the iRev portal to their respective modules, the e-transmission was not processing and uploading the result sheets for the presidential election. The system was experiencing errors and was extremely sluggish.
“The technical staff of the third respondent (INEC) made every effort to restore the application’s functionality…
INEC stated in its court filing that five application/patch updates were created and deployed promptly in an effort to correct the error.
To lend credibility to its argument, the electoral body stated that it will present the report of its ICT department as evidence during the tribunal hearing alongside two witnesses who are INEC officials.
The PEPC has yet to set hearing dates for the five petitions submitted by the Peoples Democratic Party, the Labour Party, the Action Party, the Action Alliance, and the Allied Peoples Movement.
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