Following the Supreme Court judgment judgement on Osun State governorship election petition yesterday, May 9, 2023, there seems to be more trouble for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the over 14,000 Polling Units (PUs) where voting took place without accreditation with Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices during the 2023 presidential election held on February 25, 2023.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that BVAS is the primary source of accreditation data, hence, by implication, INEC Results Viewing (IREV) portal is the primary source of scores of political parties, in accordance with Section 48(a) of INEC regulations.
Clause 48 of the Regulations and Guidelines deal with “Use of Results Electronically Transmitted or Transferred Directly from Polling Units for Collation” while Clause 93 deals with “Collation Where INEC Hard Copy of Results Do Not Exist and Use of Duplicate Hard Copies from Other Agencies”.
Clause 48 provide as follows:
“An election result shall only be collated if the Collation Officer ascertains that the number of accredited voters agrees with the number recorded in the BVAS and votes scored by Political Parties on the result sheet is correct and agrees with the result electronically transmitted or transferred directly from the Polling Unit as prescribed in these Regulations and Guidelines. (b) If a Collation or Returning Officer determines that a result from a lower level of collation is not correct, he/she shall use the result electronically transmitted or transferred directly from that lower level to collate and announce the result. (c) if no result has been directly transmitted electronically for a polling unit or any level of collation, the provision of Clause 93 of these Regulations shall be applied.”
On its part, Clause 93 provides:
“Where the INEC hardcopy of collated results from the immediate lower level of collation does not exist, the Collation Officer shall use electronically transmitted results or results from the IReV portal to continue collation. Where none of these exist, the Collation Officer shall ask for duplicate hard copies issued by the Commission to the following bodies in the order below: (i) The Nigeria Police Force; and (ii) Agents of Political Parties”
Thus, the provisions of Clauses 48 and 93 can be summarized as follows:
- The e-transmitted version is mandatory for collation at any stage; the veracity and correctness of the manual version (original copies of the result, that is, Form EC8A) must be measured by comparing the same with the e-transmitted version, and in the event of discrepancy, the e-transmitted version must prevail.
- Where the manual version is not available, the Collation Officer should use only the e-transmitted version for collation.
- Where both (1) the manual version and (2) the e-transmitted version are not available, the Collation Officer shall call for and use the duplicate copies given to the Police and to the Party Agents (at the polling unit), for collation.
The May 9 Supreme Court judgment upheld that accredited voters with BVAS, results from polling units, and fully IREV uploaded back-ends are primary sources of data.
Interestingly, INEC has yet to account for over 14,000 polling units where voting took place without accreditation with BVAS devices.
Rather, responding to the petition filed against it at the Tribunal, INEC had claimed respecting the use of BVAS:
“The 1st Respondent (INEC) pursuant to Sections 47 (2) and 62 (2) of the Electoral Act adopted the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the purpose or accreditation and the creation of the National Electronic Register of Election Results (NERER) only and states that the BVAS was not designed for real time transmission of election results for the purpose of collation.
“The INEC Results Viewing (IReV) Portal was created by the 1st Respondent to give its officials and the general public access to the National Electronic Register of Election Results for validation of results uploaded using the BVAS device. The IReV was not designed and was not intended to be used for collation of results.
“The 1st Respondent states that despite the technical glitches experienced on election clay with regards to upload of polling unit election results of the presidential election of 25th February 2023, it kept its promise to Nigerians in conducting free, fair, transparent and credible elections by deploying the BVAS.”
Reacting to INEC and its position on the use of BVAS, Labour Party/Peter Obi alleged:
“The 1st Respondent used the said Device Management System to manipulate the Election results in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents (Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima).”
In its petition before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on pages 13 and 14 of their election petition, vowed to expose the irregularities by INEC during the election.
The Petition stated: “The Petitioners state and shall lead expert evidence to show the critical components of the 1st Respondent’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including but not limited to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which is an Android Device manufactured by Emperor Technologies China and supplied to the Respondent by Activate Nigeria Limited.
“The Voter Accreditation System (VAS) which is the software that is used on the BVAS was previously designed and configured in-house and installed on the BVAS by the ICT Team of the 1st Respondent headed by Mr. Chidi Nwafor.
The VAS was subsequently handed over to Emperor Technology China prior to the Presidential Election and they then preconfigured and installed the software on the BVAS before supplying the devices to the Respondent through Activate Nigeria Limited.
“As it relates to the IReV, the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) is a web-based data entry and aggregation portal designed also by Chidi Nwafor’s team and is hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS). The server system for the device and the portal are hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS) URL: dashboard.ivasoortal.com/dash.
The Petitioners contend that some months proximate to the Elections, the Respondent caused to be transferred its in-house ICT expert, Chidi Nwafor, from its ICT Department to the Respondent’s office in Enugu as an “Administrative Secretary”, and brought in an IT Consultant, Mr. Suleiman Farouk, who introduced a third-party mechanism that was installed and made to intermediate between the BVAS and the IRev Portal, known as Device Management System (DMS).
The DMS is a software that allows INEC’s IT Security Consultant, Mr. Suleiman Farouk, to remotely control, monitor and filter data that is transmitted from the BVAS devices to the electronic collation system and the IRev platform.
Meanwhile, the Respondent engaged an appointee of the 2nd Respondent (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) to man and oversee the sensitive ICT Department of the Respondent for the purpose of the Election.
“The Petitioners aver strongly that the Respondent, having set the parameters, did not ensure compliance with the electronic transmission of results.”
On its part, the legal team of the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, has mulled reaching out to Emperor Technology China to provide information on the security feature they placed in the BVAS software to mitigate election compromise and to tell us how many of the election results presently uploaded to IReV was done using their BVAS machine.
If that is done, it expressed hope that Emperor Technology will be able to say for a fact that over 90% of the results uploaded to IReV was not through their BVAS software.
It could be recalled that News Band reported on May 8 that the Electoral Commission is in big dilemma over the 9,403 presidential polling unit election results yet to be uploaded on the INEC Results Viewing (IREV) portal which, according to sources, are “missing”.
This medium also reported on May 2 that results obtained from IREV show that till date the electoral body has yet to upload results from 9403 polling units, despite hastily declaring the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Tinubu, as the winner of the election.
The adjacent table indicated as follows:
Polling Units: 176,846
Submitted results: – 167,443
Unloaded results: = 9,403
Percentage uploaded: 94.68%
A source has, meanwhile, claimed that it is much more than 9,403 results “missing”.
According to the source, “over 90% of the so-called published results were not done with BVAS and are therefore not the original results.
“We should also comment on the 14,000 polling units where voting took place without BVAS accreditation.”
Reacting to the whole political and legal quagmire INEC plunged itself into, the Convener of the group, PGGSJ, Dr Ben Chukwu, a Nigerian born diaspora based surgeon, said:
“Going by the volume of alterations in Lagos result plus similar alterations already noted in Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Borno, Kaduna, Ekiti and several other states, it will be grave injustice, wickedness, extreme rascality and unprecedented impunity to allow the presidential election result as announced by INEC to stand.
“We therefore call on the all well-meaning Nigerians, the security agencies and especially the Judiciary/judges to save Nigeria from inevitable disintegration and unimaginable crisis by jettisoning the corruptly announced result, upholding rule of law and restoring justice to the pained, Nigerian masses.”