2019 election lessons: Army throws weight behind electronic voting, collation

The Nigerian Army on Thursday in Abuja urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to work toward using science and information technology to conduct subsequent elections to reduce human interference.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.General Tukur Buratai, who was represented by Brig-Gen John Ochai former Brigade Commander of 22 Army Brigade in Dikwa, Borno, made the call at an Electoral Reform Roundtable in Abuja.

Speaking on the theme: “Securing Nigerian Elections ‘’,Buratai said that after the 2019 elections, the army conducted an Inquiry into the complaints raised by Nigerians.

He said that it came to a conclusion that any personnel found wanting would be punished accordingly, adding that the claim of the militarisation of the elections was not true.

“I think it is going to the extreme to say that the elections were militarised because the military participation was based on constitutional provision which empowered the government to deploy the military in aid of civil authority.

“Going forward, the way to go is science and technology and other innovative methods by INEC to make it necessary to provide the type of security needed to secure our elections.

“For instance, if we adopt the electronic voting system, it will go a long way in reducing human interference and take people off polling units on Election Day.

“The advantage is that, we will have more people voting especially those in Diaspora; the issue of collation of results should also be done electronically.

“That way, the value placed on result sheets for which people get killed would be reduced just like in Benue where thugs laid ambush on the officials bringing the results,’’ he said.

The chief of army staff said that if Nigeria’s elections would be secured, technology was the way forward, adding that more than 20 countries including Namibia were already practising it.

He urged INEC to begin right away to plan other innovations ahead of the 2013 elections thereby reducing the activities of security agents in elections.

Dr Benson Olugbuo, Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, expressed the need to carry out electoral reforms to enhance credible elections.

Olugbuo also said that there was need to carry out the Police reform since the law in use now was 43 years old.
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Earlier, Mr Pascal Hollinger, Senior Political Advisor, Swiss Embassy, said that the 2019 elections came and went but Nigeria needed to look back and address the various irregularities done.

Earlier, Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said that the event was organised in conjunction with the Kofi Annan Foundation to have a discussion around the 2019 elections and the need for a reform.

“For a lot of us in this room who have gone around the world observing elections, Nigeria’s election especially in 2019 does not stand out as a good example for the continent.

“ If Nigeria gets it right, if Nigeria’s elections go right, then the rest of the continent will follow; we owe ourselves the responsibility to show the example that will entrench democracy in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Nwankwo said that the conversation on the lessons learnt in the 2019 elections would continue in order to start an early electoral reform ahead of 2023 and have an election that Nigerians would be proud of.

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