The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented the growing resort to violence and incendiary remarks by political actors ahead of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections, warning that any disruption of the process could alter electoral timelines thereby leading to a constitutional crisis.
“The Commission has observed with deep concern the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters in the run-up to the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections”, INEC said in a statement by National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye.
According to the Commission, these actions include the destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as billboards, violent campaigns and use of offensive language.
INEC urged regulatory bodies in the area of security and the media to scale up enforcements in order to safeguard the electoral process.
As part of efforts to strengthen its election management process and enhance the transparency of the system, the INEC has approved the introduction of a portal to allow Nigerians view polling units results in real-time before they are collated.
The system would be deployed in Saturday’s Nasarawa state Constituency bye-election and would also be used during the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye disclosed this in a statement, yesterday in Abuja.
According to him, the Commission is aware that result management has remained a major source of mistrust in Nigeria’s electoral process as citizens are often concerned that results may not always be consistent with votes cast.
He said INEC is determined to address the source of this concern through enhancing the level of transparency in the conduct of elections, more so in the process of releasing results of elections.
“It is a fundamental principle of democracy that in elections, votes are not only correctly counted, but that they also count. Consistent with its commitment to transparency in election management, the Commission introduced the Form EC60E, which is a poster version of the primary result sheet, the Form EC8A.
“This replica of the polling unit result is pasted at the Polling Unit after votes are counted, recorded and announced. This poster, now widely known as the ‘People’s Form EC8A’, has increased transparency in result management.
“The form enables the citizens to photograph the results and project the outcome of elections, even before the final results are announced.
“Unfortunately, this has also led to abuses, as unofficial and at times false results are known to have been circulated, particularly via social media, leading to tension and casting aspersions on the final outcome of elections.
“To further strengthen the transparency in the election result management system, the Commission has decided to introduce a dedicated public portal, the INEC RESULT VIEWING (IReV), that will enable Nigerians to view Polling Unit results real-time as the voting ends on Election Day”, the statement explained.
The Commission was however quick to emphasize that this does not constitute electronic collation of results as the collation of election results shall remain as provided for by law, a manual process of completion of relevant result sheets and their upwards collation until the final results are determined.