The independent national electoral commission has said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System could work offline and does not require a network for voter verification and authentication.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, spoke on Saturday in Abuja at a media/civil society organisations’ engagement with INEC on identifying and mitigating flashpoints of electoral misinformation and disinformation.
He added, “BVAS has come to stay and shall be used and deployed for the conduct of the 2023 general elections. Section 47(2) of the Electoral Act makes the use of the BVAS for voter authentication and verification mandatory and the commission is not vested with the discretionary authority to use or not to use the device.”
“Also, those with double and multiple PVCs are now unable to use them. Those that are masters in the use of Incident Forms have been taken out of business and they want to return to the old ways of conducting elections. Some of them are claiming that the BVAS uses a network and there is no network in their localities.”
The National Commissioner said that the implementation of electronic results transmission had fundamentally altered the electoral process and that it had significantly decreased cases of results hijacking and hacking as they traveled to the collation centers.
“Sections 50 and 64 of the Electoral Act make the electronic transmission of polling unit level results mandatory. The commission will continue to improve on its processes but will not be drawn into a debate on settled issues,” he added.
On the pronouncement by the commission that it was prepared for a rerun should there be a need for it, Okoye said the commission had largely been misinterpreted, adding, “Some people even challenged the commission, saying, ‘why are you preparing for a rerun when we have already won.’” The comment drew laughter from the audience.
He added, “Section 134 of the constitution enjoins the commission to prepare for every possible scenario and eventuality relating to the outcome of presidential and governorship elections. Candidates for presidential and governorship elections must meet the numerical and geographical threshold in section 134(2) and 178(2) of the constitution to be declared the winners of the election.”
He said if there would be a rerun, it would be conducted within 21 days between the candidate with the highest votes and the one with the highest votes in the highest number of states. “We must resist the danger and temptation of rigid expectations aimed at preventing the commission from preparing for every possible scenario in accordance with constitutional dictates,” he added.
He reiterated that the provisional register had 93, 522, 272 voters, noting that the commission would continue to clean up the register to remove visibly under aged registrants.