*as Gov Okowa deplores lawmakers’ rejection
*House caucus seeks criminal investigation of NCC officials
Tom Okpe, Abuja, Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Caucus Leader in the House of Representatives, Representative O. K Chinda, has accused the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) of misleading Nigerians over electronic transmission of votes, saying the commission should face prosecution.
This is as the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, decried the National Assembly’s rejection of electronic-transmission of elections results through the votes of most members of both chambers of the parliament in the vote on the amendment of the Electoral Act.
The Reps Caucus Leader said what transpired on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday, July 17, 2020 during the consideration of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was a show of shame.
He noted that it was a comedy of errors started by the House, stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from appearing before the House to prevent the nation from learning the truth and allowing only NCC to appear to discuss issues on the ability or otherwise of INEC to handle electronic transmission of votes.
The Leader in a statement on Tuesday also said officials of the NCC led by the Executive Director, Ubale Maska, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umaru Garba Danbatta appeared and oath was administered on them consistent with Section 5 of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017.
“While testifying before the House, on the adoption of electronic transmission of results from the units, Ubale Maska claimed that the 2018 Technical Report of the NCC showed that only about 50 percent of the polling units had 3G while 49 percent had 2G network and below.
“His answers and body language clearly betrayed his intense desire to mislead the House and the nation.
“We call on the prosecuting authorities to immediately arrest the officials of the NCC, under Prof Danbatta and all those who procured Ubale Maska and other officials to lie under oath to be criminally investigated and where found culpable, be brought to justice by standing criminal trial,” he said.
Chinda further explained that Maska cleverly sought to rely on 2018 data in 2021, when they knew or ought to know that internet penetration has advanced substantially in Nigeria since 2018
“Indeed, a perusal of NCC Website even today shows that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 (P .33) says that by September 2019, the ‘Spread of 3G/LTE’ had reached 74.2 percent in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, MTN, (See their Website) recently announced that they have achieved an extensive nationwide network coverage of 89.9 percent. This is just MTN, not to talk of other Networks.
“The worst form of perfidy, deception and outright lies is for NCC to hide the Memorandum of Understanding between NCC and INEC in 2019.
“During preparations for the 2019 general election, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, had in January 2018, visited the NCC to discuss collaboration that would enhance the electoral process.
“A joint technical committee of INEC and NCC was subsequently formed with a mandate to map out strategies that would reduce human interventions in the transmission of election results.
The committee was headed by Maska and cochaired by Muhammed Lecky, an INEC national commissioner.
“After several meetings and engagements, it was then, recommended that the ‘INEC/NCC joint technical committee should consider and adopt the traditional data communication service from MNOs using APN as the most appropriate solution for the electronic transmission of election results,’ as reported by the CABLE recently.
“Categorical declaration by INEC through Festus Okoye, their spokesman that INEC has the capacity to transmit election results from any part of the country, no matter the terrain has put the final nail on the coffin of the purveyors of the fallacy that it cannot be done.
“Electronic Transmission has recently been deployed by INEC in Edo, Ondo, Borno, Kaduna and other state elections results.”
The opposition lawmaker noted that it is obvious that there are fifth columnists and anti-democratic elements who are afraid of a free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria adding; “for a witness to be sworn under Section 5 of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017, then proceed to lie under oath and give false evidence to the House is an offence under Section 7 of the same Act.
“We must maintain the integrity of our laws and sanctity of our institutions as a nation,” he stated.
Speaking rejection of electronictransmission of elections results the National Assembly’s when he received the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Pastor Monday Udoh-Tom and his management team on an advocacy visit on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), Governor Okowa said that the lawmakers’ action could be interpreted that there was a plan to rig elections.
He, however, commended INEC for its efforts at ensuring the credibility of the electoral process and for declaring that it had capacity to transmit results electronically.
The governor warned that rejection of electronic transmission of election results could deter the country’s effort at attracting Foreign Direct Investments.
Okowa assured that he would make a broadcast to sensitise the people and various groups in the state, religious leaders and traditional rulers on the ongoing CVR.
He said that the state would continue to carry out voter education and urged all government functionaries to mobilise their people for the exercise.