The Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday explained that the Electoral Act 2022 did not provide for electronic transmission of election results as being demanded by a cross-section of Nigerians for 2023 election results.
Speaking while contributing to a motion sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) on the controversies trailing the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, Lawan said that what was passed by the National Assembly was snapping of election results and transferring to the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This was even as the motion, which centred on the need for calm and appeal to political parties, stakeholders and Nigerians to abide by the rule of law on the election process in the just concluded election, triggered a heated debate among the senators.
While senators belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, supported debate on the motion, those in the opposition kicked against it.
The Senate President said: “In the Electoral Act that we passed, there is nothing like the electoral transmission. What we have passed is to transfer all the paper works that we normally do while the agents and everybody there have the papers.
“INEC will now scan or snap the result sheets and transfer them. We urge INEC to follow the Electoral Act and other laws on their guidelines.
“In this chamber, we are not going to interpret the Electoral Act. This is not a court of law. We are just to guide this debate and talk about the general principles of how this election and declaration should be done. There is no need to stress ourselves.
“What we are doing is to urge INEC to follow the law and the citizens should be calm.”
In his motion, Senator Oloriegbe asked the Senate to urge all political actors, leaders and every Nigerian to remain calm and allow collation and announcement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections result to continue based on the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Oloriegbe, who moved the motion anchored on Orders 41 and 51, said it was very important for the highest legislative body to look into the controversy surrounding results collation by INEC and bring calm to the raging storm among political parties.
“The Senate should urge all political actors, leaders and every Nigerian to remain calm and allow collation and announcement of the presidential and National Assembly elections to proceed based on the provisions of the electoral act,” he said.
But before being allowed to make a lead debate presentation on the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West), said it was wrong to bring up the issues at such a critical time like this, saying “the Senate wasn’t the place to state what the guidelines of the INEC should be.”
Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev (PDP, Benue North West), also kicked against the motion by saying “the best way is to step down this order because if we are already generating this kind of controversy, imagine what will happen out there.”
Also speaking, Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP, Bauchi North), noted that the Senate should stay clear of the issues due to the raging controversy on it.
“Whatever happens in the collation centre and in the social media, the Senate should not involve in it.
“We passed the Electoral Act and for goodness sake, if we don’t stop this motion down, there will be endless controversy on party lines and God knows what it will generate in the public domain,” he said.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South), also kicked against the motion by saying “the process is still an ongoing one and INEC should follow its own guidelines and the Electoral Law. We should not ignite violence and the best way is to ask everybody to maintain peace and order while we go through this process and finish it properly.”
However, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East ) and others from the ruling party, supported the motion, which paved way for a full debate on it.
He said: “It is very clear that accreditation and verification are to be done by the BVAS. We are not voting electronically for that real-time transmission to happen.
“Transmission can only happen after it has been published on BVAS. So it is not real-time. We are not a court to interpret but INEC has a responsibility to stick to guidelines.
“It is a simple process and that process after publishing, they send it to back-end servers and it is after then that INEC can put it on IREV. INEC has been attacked over 160 times and nobody has been making any issue about that.”
Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), in his own contribution, said Nigerians should be patient for INEC to complete the process while also calling on the judiciary to do the right thing.
He noted that the judiciary should not allow itself to be dragged into interfering with the elections without passing through the proper process.
The Senate called on Nigerians to remain calm just as it urges INEC to abide by extant laws in the collation of results of the presidential election.