By Faith Edet Bassey
When Alhaji Abubakar Atiku started yelling that he had been cheated on the Monday following the presidential election, I thought, well, perhaps he must have a point. Then he said the results he was getting from the field showed he was ahead while the results being announced on TV and radio by the returning officers showed that he was losing by an ever increasing gap as the results came in.
Then he said he was going to prove that the elections were rigged by showing that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server (not website, which is accessible to all) contained results showing he won the elections by 1.6 million votes. As to how these results got to the INEC server, he offered that the Smart Card Readers transferred the results from the polling units electronically to the server.
Atiku is clearly playing games with our intelligence. His ploy is simple. Tell a lie, make it as confusing as possible, a lie around technology always works best. But this is so irritating because it is so obviously a lie.
In the petition before the tribunal, he says that the results on the INEC server showed that in Lagos State, he had 1.1 million votes and President Muhammadu Buhari had 1.3 million votes. I voted in Lagos, the entire Nigerian press and all the social media operate in Lagos. Minute by minute they posted the results on line. The total votes by all the media for both Buhari, Atiku and all other candidates was 1.05 million votes. It seems only Atiku had a record of this fantastic result!
I am a lawyer, I am not a SAN like his lawyers but the Electoral Act makes no provision whatsoever for transmission of election results electronically. The relevant provision clearly prescribes a process of filling and verifying forms at every stage from local government collation to State collation and then the National collation centre at Abuja. Section 73. Of the Electoral Act says , “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall issue and publish, in the Gazette, guidelines for the elections which shall make provisions, among other things, for the step by step recording of the poll in the electoral forms as may be prescribed beginning from the polling unit to the last collation centre for the ward or constituency where the result of the election shall be declared’.
And section 74. says, ‘Every Result Form completed at the Ward, Local Government, State and National levels in accordance with the provision of this Act or any guidelines issued by the Commission shall be stamped, signed and countersigned by the relevant officers and polling agents at those levels and copies given to the police officers and the polling agents, where available.’
So the law expects that the results would be collated manually, entered and signed on forms provided by law. In any event, the Card reader is only configured to verify the authenticity of PVCs not to collate and transmit results. Those who designed the process may have known that electronic transmission would result in these types of scams, a candidate who claims he accessed the INEC server! If he could access it he could tamper with the figures. Thank God that we have hard copies of all the results and the law only allows proof by hard copies.
The same Atiku argues in his petition that Card readers were not used in many States. Yet his ‘server results’ show results from every State except Rivers State. In every State there is a total number of accredited voters and scores for both Buhari and himself. How were the results electronically transmitted in States where Card Readers were allegedly not used?
Ms Bassey, a legal practitioner, writes from Abuja