OPINION: INEC’s warning on BVAS, Osun poll fallout and other matters
Nobody, absolutely nobody, was surprised when the Independent National Electoral Commission disclosed that some politicians were scheming to manipulate the BVAS technology for their nefarious agenda, ahead of the 2023 elections.
This revelation came in the aftermath of the Osun State governorship election; the election petition tribunal had sacked Ademola Adeleke as Osun governor.
This was due to the reported failure of the Bimodal Accreditation System (BVAS) to check over-voting during the polls — this has raised many posers amongst stakeholders about the readiness of the INEC as the general elections beckon.
In August 2022, Oyetola had petitioned the tribunal to challenge the victory of Adeleke, contending that there was over-voting in 749 polling units across 10 local government areas of the state.
According to Justice Terste Kume’s ruling, the election was not conducted in accordance with the Nigerian electoral Act. The tribunal had invalidated Adeleke’s election after finding that there had been excessive voting in the off-cycle governorship race. Furthermore, it stated that Gboyega Oyetola had won the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was ordered by the tribunal to revoke the certificate of returns it had given to Adeleke and his Peoples Democratic Party running mate Kola Adewusi (PDP).
Consequently, the Justice Kume-led panel ordered that former All Progressives Congress governor Oyetola receive a certificate of returns from the Electoral body.
INEC’s “Watery” Defence
Meanwhile, Osun State office of INEC on Thursday in Osogbo dismissed media reports that its Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Mutiu Agboke, said there was over-voting during the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state.
Head of the Department, Voter Education, Publicity and Inclusivity in the office, Mr Adewale Francis, stated that the over-voting statement credited to Agboke was incorrect and mischievous.
“The attention of the Osun State office of INEC has been drawn to media reports that the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Mutiu Agboke, purportedly said that there was over-voting during the election.
“The report is incorrect and mischievous.
“The REC only explained the efficacy of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System as a device for the accreditation of voters when he visited the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Akanbi.
“Any extrapolation to the contrary is outside the context of the statement and should be disregarded.
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“We implore the media to always verify their source of information before publication,’’ he stated.
Dr Agboke visited Oba Akanbi in Iwo on Tuesday where he explained the workings of the BVAS machines.
He was, however, reported by some media outfits as saying the BVAS machines were used or manipulated by some INEC staff and politicians to commit over-voting during the governorship election in Osun.
Whether this disclaimer is enough to assuage the misgivings of Nigerians remain to be seen but the situation paints a bleak picture, considering what Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said during a recent interview.
Okoye, during an appearance on Channels TV, claimed that some politicians in the country are plotting to manipulate the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) ahead of next month’s elections.
He said: “Some of these fears are not valid. People are just throwing in issues into the fray to make sure that we disclose to them the complete and entire functionality of the BVAS.
“There are some politicians who want us to open the brain of the BVAS [machine] so they can see inside the BVAS [machine], to see how it functions and for them to also see whether there’s a possibility for them to clone it or manipulate it and the commission will not do that.”
Nonetheless, the INEC spokesman allayed the fears of Nigerians on the BVAS, saying the technology was fool-proof and could not be subjected to external manipulations.
“Our BVAS is a very robust gadget – a very robust instrument, and we have faith in it. We believe it is the ultimate arbiter in terms of those who want to manipulate the process.
“I think that Nigerians should have faith in the BVAS. It is robust and will be a game-changer in the 2023 general elections,” the INEC official added.
Confidence in the system can only be fostered if there are severe consequences for errant Electoral officials, since most technology can only transmit any information input therein — the security agencies must be proactive towards nipping this scourge in the bud in order to stop the trend of “Supreme Court Governors” while entrenching confidence in the system.
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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