Controversy Trails Functionality of BVAS, ICT Experts Silent on Alleged Sabotage in Uploading Election Results

Emma Okonji

As the controversy surrounding Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections persists, some Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts have insisted that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) that was used for the election worked very well and fulfilled the purpose of introducing the device while others disagree.

According to them, the BVAS device is a shift from Card Reader device that was used in previous elections and the purpose of BVAS is to identify multiple registrations and sieve them to single registration, while ensuring that one man, one woman is accredited and eligible to vote.

They were however silent on the alleged sabotage in uploading election results on the portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after successful accreditation, voting and counting.

Most electorate and some party members have alleged that INEC compromised in the electoral process, hence it was extremely difficult for INEC staff in most polling units across the country, to upload election results that were counted in the presence of the electorates and security personnel.

Executive Secretary, Information Technology Systems and Security Professionals (ITSSP), an interest group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Mr. Rogba Adeoye, told THISDAY that the BVAS technology worked optimally as expected in the accreditation of voters across the country before the voting commenced. He was however worried like every other electorate, why it was difficult to upload election results to INEC portal, using the same BVAS device. Reacting to allegations that it could be sabotage, Adeoye said sabotage could be human factor, but insisted that technology could fail, especially when used for the first time. He said such failure could be attributed to anxiety on the part of INEC officials in operating the new BVAS device or a deliberate attack, launched by hackers who want to try the vulnerability of the BVAS technology.

President of NCS, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, said: “The introduction of BVAS was meant to address anomalies in election registration, accreditation and voting, and the purpose was well achieved, using BVAS. The purpose for introducing BVAS is to curb multiple registrations, double voting and ensure easy counting of election results before the results are uploaded to INEC website. As a technology person, I will want to distant myself from any allegation of sabotage, because INEC ought to have carried out stress test and integrity test severally on the devices before the election. Hackers can launch Denial of Service (DoS) attack to deny access to network during uploading of results, and that is the reason why INEC could have carried out several test on the BVAS device before the election.”
Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons Nigeria, Mr. Tim Akano, had earlier called on INEC to conduct a stress test on Data-in-Motion or Data-in-Transit on BVAS before the election.

Akano said the BVAS test would ensure stronger security protection for data transmission before the general election slated for February 25th, 2023, since it would be the first time in the history of the country that live data would be used to determine who wins the presidential election and other elections.
He gave the advice, while speaking during this year’s World Data Privacy Day, organised recently by the Data and Knowledge Privacy Protection Initiative, with the theme: ‘Understanding Privacy and Online Risk in the Digital World Today.’

Debunking insinuations that the difficulty in uploading and transmitting election results from polling units to INEC website, could be as a result of failed network on the part of telecom operators, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adabayo, told THISDAY that there was no record of downtime on telecom network across the country, insisting that the inability of INEC officials to upload election results to INEC website, cannot be attributed to failed telecom network. “If the network was down, people could not have been able to communicate with their mobile phones from various polling units across the country and they would not be able to record the counting of election results and transmitting same across social media platforms,” Adebayo said. He however advised Nigerians to allow INEC to carry out its investigation on the challenges faced in uploading and transmitting election results from most polling units across the country.

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