Nigeria – President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, approved an amended election law to allow electronic transfer of vote results during the next year’s elections to improve transparency.
Votes in the country have often been ruined by electoral fraud claims and court challenges since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
The amended electoral law allows the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to authorise electronic transmission of voting results to prevent fraud during elections. The commission can also authorise the electronic registration of voter identities. The commission was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While signing the bill, the president said that there are provisions that could positively revolutionise elections in the country through new technological innovations. Buhari said that the innovations would guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens to vote effectively during the election. The amendments come as the country prepares for presidential elections in 2023.
Reportedly, a dispute over the electronic transfer of votes erupted in the Senate in 2021 during a debate over the amended election law. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party said that INEC could only manage the electronic ballot transfer with the national telecoms commission. It led to outrage among the opposition parties. Reportedly, the opposition said that the move would undermine the independence of INEC. Subsequently, the Senate voted to allow INEC to decide.
Buhari was first elected in 2015. He has been President of Nigeria since 2015. Earlier, he rejected the new law fearing insecurity during the polls. He feared the new law because it included primaries to choose candidates. He further claimed it would violate party by law.
INEC came under fire after Buhari’s re-election in 2019 over claims that the ballot was not transparent. He won some 56 per cent of the vote in 2019. The opposition challenged the results in a Nigerian court.