Touchaheart Nigeria reports that as a result of the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja, only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is authorized by law to choose the method of compiling and disseminating election results.
In another ruling, Judge Emeka Nwite stated that only INEC has the authority to specify how Polling Unit Presiding Officers shall transmit election results, including the total number of registered voters and the outcome of the vote.
Justice Nwite concluded that the manual collation and transfer of election results in the general elections of 2023 is in accordance with the pertinent sections of the Election Act, 2022 before dismissing the lawsuit.
The ruling arose from a lawsuit brought by the Labour Party (LP) with INEC as the only defendant and with case number FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022.
The LP had asked the court to rule that the Election Act of 2022’s pertinent clauses prohibit INEC from choosing any manual process other than the electronic approach.
In order for INEC to comply with the Electoral Act, 2022 on the electronic transmission of results in the upcoming general election, the Labour Party sought the court to grant an order.
The judge said:
“From the argument of the learned plaintiff’s counsel, I am of the humble opinion that the bone of contention or the sections that seeks for interpretation are actually sections 50(2) 60(5) and 62(2) of the Electoral Act, 2922.
“Section 47(2) as cited by the learned counsel to the plaintiff only deals with accreditation of voters using a Smart Card Reader, but not collation or transmission of result as postulated by the learned counsel,” the judge held.
According to Justice Nwite, the Electoral Act of 2022 Section 60(5) allows for the transfer of election results, including the total number of accredited voters from the polling place.
He pointed out that the same Act’s Section 62(2) calls for the creation, upkeep, and ongoing updating of a register of election results that serves as a separate database for all polling unit results as compiled in all elections conducted by the commission.
According to Justice Nwite;
“The said Section 62(2) has mandated that such register of election results shall be kept in an electronic format by the commission at its national headquarters.
“Now a close reading of Section 50(2) of the Act has provided for voting and and transmission of result to be done in accordance wit the procedure to be determined by the commission.
“This is to say that the commission is at liberty to prescribe or choose the manner in which election results shall be transmitted.
“In same ambit, Section 60(5) empowered the Polling Unit Presiding Officer to transfer the election results, including the total number of accredited voters and results of the ballot in a manner to be prescribed by the commission.
“This is also to say the commission is again at liberty to prescribe to the Polling Units’ Presiding Officer the manner in which to collate and transfer the election results as well as the accredited number of voters in an election under the Act.”
“In view of the foregoing, can the act of the defendant (INEC) in collating and transferring election results manually in the forthcoming 2023 general elections be said to be contrary to the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022?
“The answer can only be in the negative as there is no where in the above cited sections where the commission or any of its Agents is mandated to only use an electronic means in collating or transferring of election result.
“If any, the commission is only mandated to collate and transfer election results and number of accredited voters in a way or manner deemed fit by it.
“In view of the above, I am finding that, by the provisions of Sections 50(2) and 60(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 the correct interpretation of the said statutes is that the defendant (INEC) is at liberty to prescribe the manner in which election results could be transmitted and I so hold.
“Consequently this matter is hereby dismissed.”
INEC declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election, after he defeated Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.