The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that results of elections conducted by it and uploaded from polling units cannot be manipulated or compromised.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who gave the assurance at a national workshop for political parties, civil society organisations, the media and other stakeholders, stressed that editing of uploaded results by electoral officials is not possible.
Yakubu, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, said fears being expressed over the electronic transmission of results were uncalled for as the process is difficult to manipulate, adding that there has been less rancour as far as results is concerned owing to the adoption and use of technology by the Commission.
Yakubu, who was speaking as one of the panelists said that results uploaded on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) cannot be breached, saying that the inability of politicians to manipulate the process has seen them resort to buying votes.
He also noted that the electronic transmission of results has afforded political parties and candidates to compute election results real time, adding that party agents are required to sign the results from polling units and should ensure that what they signed is what is uploaded.
The INEC Chairman acknowledged failed attempts to attack the Commission’s websites and electronic portals, thus, assured there are adequate security measures put in place to resist such attacks.
The electoral body boss specifically lamented the ongoing political campaigns on social media but expressed regret that it is handicapped to take any action as the development is out of its jurisdiction.
In the words of Yakubu; “Those campaigning on social media are taking advantage of the loophole in the electoral laws which does not extend to social media.
“Campaigns are expected to start from September 28. I am not sure the new Electoral Act in terms of regulations extended the reach to social media and so the people exploited it.
The loophole needs to be plugged. For now, the Commission is constrained to hold people responsible for campaigning on social media before the September 28, 2022 deadline for the process,” he said.
Speaking in turn, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Mr. Emmanuel Itodo urged INEC to subject its Bi-modal Voters Accreditation System (BIVAS) to a stress test ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
Itodo urged INEC to be bold enough to check how hack-proof the machines are as a precaution to the elections, saying; “I urge INEC to conduct a stress test on the BVAS to gauge its vulnerability ahead of the 2023 polls.”
This was as YIAGA challenged Nigerians to charge INEC to henceforth upload accredited voters list alongside results from the polling units.
In the words of Itodo; “The BVAS has capacity to upload results from the polling units and the wards as well as the registered voters in various polling units.”
Also speaking, the head of the secretariat of National Peace Committee, Rev Father Atta Barkindo, said they decided to embark on this workshop based on the need to hold candidates and political parties to account on the issue of social media and fake news as part of the peace accord process.
The two-day workshop titled; “The role and impact of digital technologies in facilitating peaceful elections in Nigeria,” taking place in Abuja was organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in collaboration with the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Kukah Centre.