Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, wednesday said the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ban smart phones at polling units was unconstitutional.
Ekweremadu who spoke during a condolence visit to the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, at his country home in Toru-Orua, Sagbama Local Government Area, said the ban would go against provisions of the Nigerian constitution, which gave room for freedom of communication, expression as well as freedom of the press.
The governor’s Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a statement said Ekweremadu explained that since the National Assembly was working on the Electoral Act to pave the way for the announcement of results of elections at polling booths, the ban would hamper the free flow of communication, which is necessary to have a free, fair and credible election.
“Nigeria must take full advantage of technology as it could not afford to lag behind, especially in the bid to ensure citizens’ participation through recording of results and the electoral processes,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President stressed that the international observers would need their smart phones and other media devices to record and send back information to their home countries and therefore called on the electoral umpire to revisit the decision.
He said: “On the issue of INEC’s ban on smart phones at polling booths, that is completely unconstitutional because we have provisions in the Constitution that make room for freedom of communication, expression and even freedom of the Press. That is what this ban is trying to abridge.
“Nigerians are free to express themselves through the media and free speech. I believe that in this age of technology, we cannot be going backwards. So we need to take full advantage of the accomplishments of technology in our life.
“We are amending the Electoral Act to make provision for the announcement of results at polling booths and if our people are unable to communicate, it makes no sense at all. We are hoping that we can accomplish a free, fair and credible election by the use of technology.
“It is the use of technology that can help us relay to everybody the results of various elections at respective polling units. We need to ensure the people are able to use their smart phones to record results, election processes and send to everybody.