An internal circular of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has indicated that the commission transmitted voter information from smart card readers to a central server during the 2019 presidential elections.
The document, which was first posted on social media by Reno Omokri, an opposition PDP operative, on Wednesday afternoon, carried a directive from national secretary of INEC, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, to other senior officials of the commission on challenges recorded in transmitting voter accreditation data to a server.
“The commissioner has observed, with deep concerns, the number of smart card readers (SCRs) that do not have data of accredited voters in the just concluded presidential/NASS elections nationwide,” Ms Oriaran-Anthony said in the March 25 letter to all resident electoral commissioners (RECs) across the country.
The top electoral officer also noted in the memo that 4,786 smart card readers did not have data on accredited voters following the presidential election on February 23, representing about four per cent of the total SCRs deployed for that exercise.
“Attached is the chart, showing the PUs (polling units) not uploaded to the SCR accreditation backend, for each of the states,” Ms Oriaran-Anthony added in the memo.
Ms Oriaran-Anthony then directed all concerned RECs to liaise with their technical and electoral operations officials to clarify why the card readers failed to upload accreditation data on election day. They were given until March 28 to submit their replies.
Festus Okoye, a spokesperson for INEC, declined several attempts by PREMIUM TIMES to get his comments on the internal memo.
The document marks yet another pressure on the electoral body over whether or not it used a central server to collect data from polling units across the country on election day.
The commission has insisted that it was not in possession of any central server for the conduct of the election, saying doing so would have contradicted the Electoral Act. INEC maintained the position despite overwhelming claim to the contrary by some of its presiding officers in the election.
Many of the presiding officers and their subordinates have since sworn affidavit to testify against the commission in favour of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s candidate and main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari, who was declared winner of the election.
PREMIUM TIMES also found last month that INEC budgeted nearly N1.5 billion for server installations ahead of the presidential election.
But the commission told the elections tribunal that it had no server and Mr Abubakar and his team were only being mischievous. A former chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, also told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no server during his days at INEC, and expressed doubts about any resent installation of such facilities under Yakubu Mahmood.
Mr Abubakar’s legal team said the opposition leader won the presidential election but was rigged out by INEC officials who allegedly compromised to return Mr Buhari to power.
The elections tribunal denied Mr Abubakar’s request to inspect INEC’s server last month, saying granting such an order would presuppose that the court had ruled that the server actually existed.
The court deferred pronouncement on the server until a proper argument has been made by both teams in the substantive petition. The petitioner began calling its witnesses last week.