May 19, 2024

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Drama: Electronic voting, panacea for rigging, thuggery – Army, civil defense  * No, Nigeria not yet ripe for electronic voting  – INEC 

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Electronic voting, panacea for rigging, thuggery – Army, civil defense

* No, Nigeria not yet ripe for electronic voting  – INEC

By Steve Oko

The Nigerian Army as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps has submitted that  the introduction of electronic voting is the only solution to the orgy of violence, thuggery and rigging that usually characterise elections in Nigeria.

But the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in swift response, sharply disagreed with the security agencies, insisting that “Nigeria is not yet ripe for electronic voting “.

The disagreement came to the fore Monday at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Stakeholders Forum on  the Future of Elections in Nigeria which was organised in Abuja with support of the British Department for International Development, DFID.

Stakeholders including INEC and key security agencies were brainstorming over the readiness or otherwise of Nigeria to adopt electronic voting system in the 2023 polls.

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In  his presentation, the representative of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Felix Omoigui, argued that electronic voting remained  the only answer to rigging and violence in subsequent elections in Nigeria.
He said it was the only way to address cases of abduction of electoral officers as well as hijack of material.
His words : “Situations where thugs abduct INEC officials at collation centres or en-route to collation centres will be largely nipped in the bud” if the system is adopted.”
He also advocated deployment of effective communication technology in all the wards where election would hold.

“Furthermore, efforts should be made to ensure that all Wards where elections will be held subsequently are provided with effective communication facilities to mitigate issues of poor network that could mar the electronic voting. We know that we have issues with this, but if we are able to work at it, it will go a long way to solving the problem.

“The other recommendation is the strengthening of the capacity of the Nigerian Police.

“We need to fully equip, arm and train the Nigerian Police to effectively provide the needed security at the polling units and collation centres. This will not only dissuade the perpetrators of electoral violence, but will also reposition the police to effectively combat other criminal acts.

“During the conduct of the last election, there was a particular polling booth where thugs were snatching boxes and there was only one policeman and he was not armed. He was just running all over the place, it was so disheartening”.

Brigadier Omoigui equally called for the enactment of stiffer punishment for electoral offenders, stressing that thuggery and violence during the just concluded elections were promoted by “greedy and unscrupulous politicians who deploy all forms of tactics to win elections at all cost”

“ Strengthening the electoral laws and tribunals to prosecute and punish electoral thugs and their sponsors with jail term of not less than four years until the next general elections, will deter the would be perpetrators of violence”, he added.

Supporting this view,  the NSCDC, in a speech by its Commandant General, Abdullahi Gana, argued that electronic voting “will clearly put an end to the orgies of killings associated with thuggery before, during and after elections in Nigeria, as well as minimize incidence of rigging of elections in Nigeria”.

But in a  sharp disagreement the the submissions of the security agencies, INEC  through its National Commissioner, Prof. Okey Ibeanu, maintained that the country was not yet ripe for the use of such sophisticated technology.

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INEC  cited “absence of robust technical and physical infrastructure” as reason for its position.

The electoral umpire noted that “election in Nigeria is increasingly becoming more complex despite the minimal utilization of technologies in the electoral processes.”

The INEC representative further  argued that “there are key factors that must be considered before e-voting could effectively take-off in Nigeria”.

He identified the factors as  ” power supply and the ability of electorates to conquer their fundamental trust issues in the system by believing in the capability of the electoral body to function independently without external manipulations.”

He said :“Each time we are demanding more ‘complexification’ of our election, we should remember that our infrastructure may not be adequate to take care of the process”.

Steve Oko, Publisher/C.E.O, WaWa News Global. For more information on advert placement and news coverage, contact us on: 08038725600, or via email; Always read WaWa News Global - Your most dependable online news platform for the latest breaking news in Nigeria.
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