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INEC’s Responsibility and Accountability for the Failure of IReV and BVAS; A Legal Overview

INEC’s Responsibility and Accountability for the Failure of IReV and BVAS; A Legal Overview

INTRODUCTION 

In the mighty time of 2023 general elections, the nation’s political scale weighted witness of a flood-tiding event; the astonishing collapse of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) and the Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS). Was it a technical issue, a negligent act or a deliberate move? As the digital infrastructure crumbled under the weight of uncertainty and expectation, with several questions rumbling in voter’s heart, doubts crept in, echoing across the nation’s political landscape. 

Prof. Attahiru Jega, the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), seized the center stage, urging for answers in an intriguing interview on Channels Television News. His touching remarks reflect  the urgency needed in questioning the counts. Painting a dark light on the very foundation of Nigeria’s electoral integrity and efficiency. 

Now, as the rain settles, a farmer need to search for his seedlings in order to taste the fertility of his land. that is to invite accountability to question but not just mere explanations, but a reassurance for the very soul of our democracy. that is the need for INEC to provide explanations regarding the failure of these technological systems. 

Legal Overview

As Enshrined in Section 52(1) of the Electoral Act; providing the fundamental mandate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to establish and maintain an electronic database for the registration of voters, conduct of elections, and transmission of results.

This digital imprint stands as the bedrock for voter registration, the coherence of elections and the transmission of results. A critical look at this particular section and sub section; provide a guiding light towards the nexus of modernity in democratic dispensation. 

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Also, Section 78(1) of the Electoral Act empowers the INEC to use electronic voting machines or any other method of voting as it may deem fit in conducting elections. 

All these are to the effect; that technological systems should be robust and secure to prevent any form of manipulation or interference.

In the case of Adeleke v. INEC (2019) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1732) 511, the Nigerian Court of Appeal emphasized the importance of transparency and integrity in electoral processes. It held that the INEC has a duty to ensure that the electronic devices use in the process are secure from any form of manipulation or interference. 

As observed under the Electoral Act, INEC is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the integrity and transparency of elections through the deployment of suitable technological solutions. 

The introduction of IReV and BVAS aimed to enhance the credibility of the electoral process by providing voters with access to real-time results and improving voter registration mechanisms.

General Overview

Prof. Attahiru Jega’s remarks suggest that the failure of these systems might have resulted from the infiltration and sabotage by “reckless politicians” who seek to manipulate the electoral outcome in their favour. This highlights the nefarious attempts by certain political actors to subvert democratic principles for personal gains. 

He called for a thorough public inquiry that aligns with the principles of accountability and transparency in governance. INEC owes Nigerians a comprehensive explanation regarding the technical glitches and vulnerabilities that led to the failure of the IReV and BVAS systems. Such an inquiry would facilitate a robust assessment of the systemic challenges facing Nigeria’s electoral infrastructure and inform strategic reforms to mitigate future risks. 

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Conclusion

The failure of the IReV and BVAS systems during the 2023 general elections maze the INEC electoral prowess to conduct a free, fair, and credible elections. And thus question the accountability and transparency of their pillars. So, the INEC must proactively address the lapses that marred the electoral process. To fight back the spirit of our democratic stance. A collaborative effort between stakeholders, organizations, legal experts, political actors, and the public in safeguarding the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral democracy.


Background Image credit: Leadership News


About Author

Salisu Abdulazeez Lawal is a 200 level law student at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. A Writer, A Poet & A Researcher.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 08139952399

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