CDD flays INEC over result portal, others, warns of post-election litigation
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has deplored poor conduct of last weekend’s Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), particularly in areas of operations, communications violence, voter intimidation and vote buying.
The civil society organisation (CSO), in a report that highlighted “Four key issues that defined Nigeria’s 2023 presidential and legislative election process,” raised transparency concerns, warning that there might be post-election litigation.
For the polls under review, the group deployed over 4,900 observers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The observations, the CDD added, were a product of on-ground analyses supported by verifiable data.
It said: “Nigeria is likely to see another wave of electoral litigations. PDP and LP agents have already staged a walkout to protest both presidential and legislative results, with challenges likely to be determined by the weighting that the judiciary gives to procedures.”
While appreciating the fact that the election was not postponed like the last three ones, CDD, however, decried late arrival of INEC officials at the polling units and challenges posed by the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
It insisted that some Nigerians cast their ballots in contravention of the legal framework, which requires that all voters must be authenticated by BVAS.
The report stated: “Although less pronounced elsewhere in the country, 8.7 per cent of observers witnessed this taking place In South-South, 5.9 per cent in Southwest, 9.6 per cent in the Northeast, 4.2 per cent in the Southeast and 7.7 per cent in the Northcentral zones. Technical issues were also noted by our observers, with 23.1 per cent having witnessed issues of BVAS malfunction. This was particularly acute in the Northeast, with 42.7 per cent of observers recording a malfunction, but was also high in the Northwest (28.7 per cent).”
CDD flayed the electoral umpire INEC for poor handling of the result viewing portal (IReV), designed to provide real-time transmission of outcomes (Form EC 80A) from polling units to the central collation centre to enhance transparency of the entire process and reduce incidence of vote rigging and election manipulation.
According to the non-profit organisation, as of 9p.m. on election day, there were no results uploaded to the platform for the presidential results, adding that as at 11a.m. on Monday, only 53,154 polling unit results out of a total of 176,734 were available on the platform.
CDD noted: “The fact that some senatorial and House of Representatives elections were uploaded also fuelled rumours of vote manipulation. Despite optimism from both INEC and citizens that technology could be a game changer in Nigeria’s elections, the way the technology was deployed during result transmission in particular has arguably weakened the public perception of transparency and accountability.”
It applauded the turnout of Nigerians, especially the youth, despite well-documented instances of insecurity in all six geopolitical zones, as well as fuel and currency scarcity that threatened to derail the electoral process.
The group, however, observed that that the election suggested that ethnic identity remains an important factor shaping voter preference, with the youth not a monolithic block.
The report further noted that while vote buying has reduced, inducement subsists.