How politicians still threaten credible polls — INEC source

*IREV, RATECHs will check rigging

*Immediate access to uploaded Polling Units results by voters is key; what voters must know and do to navigate IREV sphere

*Patriotic INEC staff averted rigging plot in Anambra governorship poll

COMPLEMENTING the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in its drive to hand to Nigerians free, fair and credible elections in 2023, Vanguard can authoritatively provide Nigerians a step-by-step process of how to assist the commission and, indeed, the nation, to deliver elections worthy of their calling.

Last week, the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, re-committed the commission to its avowed determination to deliver on the promise of free, fair and credible elections.

He insisted that the Bimodal Verification Voting System, BVAS, and the uploading of results real time had come to stay.

The nagging question is whether Nigerians will have access to view polling units results as they are uploaded on the INEC Server and its result-viewing portal, INEC Election Result Viewing, IREV, portal simultaneously.

The National Chairman, Professor Yakubu and Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, avoided making a commitment to Nigerians that as polling units results are being uploaded to the INEC server, the same results would be uploaded simultaneously to INEC Election Result Viewing, IREV, portal for the viewing confirmation of Nigerians.

Vanguard was authoritatively informed by INEC sources at its headquarters in Abuja that there is a difference between real time upload of results to the INEC Server and real time upload of results to the IREV portal.

Whereas the INEC Server used for the election is the warehouse for documentation and storage of election results, which only a specific and designated number of senior staff of the commission have access, the IREV Portal is the window opened to members of the public to access results of elections.

Vanguard learned that there is a difference between realtime upload of polling units results to the INEC Server and real time release of results on the IREV portal.

The INEC source disclosed that the intendment of the commission at the time of piloting the system “is to first upload the polling units results to the INEC Server, clean up whatever errors that may have occurred using its Registration Area Technicians, RATECHs, who also have access to the Server, before uploading the same polling units results onto the IREV portal where Nigerians can then have access.”

Role of RATECHS

But there are indications, and some senior officials of INEC are aware, that politicians will attempt to  compromise the process at the ward level by Registration Area Technicians, RATECHS, given that they have access to the Server and are expected to validate same before upload to the IREV portal.

Vanguard was informed that whereas the inviolability of BVAS remained, some politicians had already devised their own means of accommodating same.

It was discovered that when voting is completed at the polling unit and results declared, signed by the candidates’ agents and the presiding officer and pasted on the wall for voters to see, and simultaneously uploadrd to the INEC server, the surest guarantee for all political parties would be an equally simultaneous upload of the same result to the IREV portal for all Nigerians to see as it is uploaded to the server.

“That way”, the INEC source continued, “it will be difficult for any form of compromise by RATECHs to upload pre-written form EC8A results to the IREV public portal different from original results from polling units.

“But a situation where results are uploaded in realtime to the INEC server, but would then be validated by Registration Area Technicians, RATECHs, at the Ward level, could give rise to interception and compromise as was discovered in Anambra governorship election where several wards of  a number of LGAs where RATECHs uploaded pre-written new form EC8A result to the portal was almost sealed, but for the refusal of some collation officers, which led to its failure – but it would have been doable if the other INEC officials had cooperated.

“What has been discovered – and which was attempted during the Anambra 2021 governorship election and even in Cross River State – is that some politicians attempted to compromise the process and almost succeeded by using RATECHs at ward level to upload totally different results.

”Had those people also gone ahead with the plan, the outcome of Anambra election wouldn’t have been what it turned out to be.”

The source in INEC further said “if polling units results are not sent simultaneously to both server and IREV public portal for Nigerians to have access to view the same result, real time, starting from polling units, the window of validation by RATECHs may be used to compromise the outcome of original results from polling units.

”This was the case in Anambra (Abatete) and several other wards by RATECHs who are our lCT staff. RATECHs validation should be stopped and all polling units’ scanned Form EC8A result with total accredited voters and scanned ward level result form EC8B should be uploaded to the results view portal at the same time for Nigerians to view contemporaneously.”

Another plot

Vanguard gathered that when the BVAS captures and records, for instance, a total of 250 accredited voters, that figure is left undeleted because its operations are secure.

It was learned, however, that politicians are already perfecting plans to compromise officials and that if that fails, they would use security agents to hijack materials after voting, destroy original ballot papers numbering 250 as recorded by BVAS for example, and then thumb print a fresh set of the total 250 ballot papers not exceeding what is on the BVAS as total accredited number of voters at the time of kidnap of the poll officials.

It was gathered that they would then allocate votes for the political party of choice but strangely, the new thumb printed ballot serial numbers will not start from figure 1 to 250, but from 251 as the serial number of the ballot papers that start from 1 to 250 would have all been destroyed.

”Because there is no perfect crime, and except fake ballot papers are used, ballot papers numbering from 251 to 500 to make-up for the exact 250 accredited voters captured by BVAS, would be an automatic red flag.

”This is the plot and may happen in between the intervening period when polling units results are uploaded to the INEC server and when the same polling units results would be uploaded on the IREV at the ward level,” a source said. (Check images and recommendations to curb electoral fraud, below).

Vanguard learned that something similar happened during the Anambra election but there was no community compromise because of some INEC staff who refused  to play along.

Community compromise is when there is a consensus among election officials at any or all levels of the process to engage a partisan mode, thereby favouring one party against others.

Rigging prevention

In the search to correct systemic electoral fraud (manipulation of polling UNITS results at WARD level – from where it would go live on INEC portal), Vanguard arrived at recommendations that can help Nigerians checkmate rigging by navigating the sphere.

The recommendations were reached, following a step-by-step registration process to access election results on https://www.inecelectionresults.ng/ and a further analysis of common patterns of rigging that may arise, citing the 2021 governorship election in Anambra State, a case study of Abetete ward, Idemili North Local Government Area.

From the survey of the results, apart from being pre-written results, there were alterations on the result sheets – specifically on result outcomes, as well as clear discrepancies between the vote scores written in words and numbers. There is need to pay attention to words, if numbers can be easily manipulated.

Accessing The Portal:

To reveal an example of the intended fraud, interested Nigerians can access the site by logging-in to https://www.inecelectionresults.com

Or https://www.inecelectionresults.com/login

*1. The link will take an applicant to a sign-up or sign-in page.

*2. Thereafter an applicant is expected to “Click on “Create new Account?”, fill in his or her details in the form provided and click on “Sign in”

*3. Such is also expected to provide a state of origin and click on “Continue”.

*4. An account activation email is sent to the email address provided in the form.

*5. An individual should copy the activation code which will be entered into the text box provided on the portal to activate the account.

*6. This logs applicants into the portal and they can select the election whose polling unit (PU) results they are interested in viewing.

*7. There are also filter buttons to make the search easier.

*8. In the portal bearing “INEC-Result console”, there is a Disclaimer bearing “This platform provides information for research purposes. It is NOT for Election result collation. By continuing to the result section, you agree to the Terms of Use as defined by INEC. Please visit https://www.inecnigeria.org”.

*9. Applicants are also given the opportunity to select the election type to view results in either Presidential, Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Chairmanship, and Councillor elections. (In this instance, 2021 Anambra State governorship election)

*10. A click on this shows the recent results on ward basis and clicking on ‘view result’ will reveal the computed result sheet saved in PDF (Portable Document Format) as supposedly presented at the Polling Units but viewed afterwards when it had gotten to the Wards.

That is why the alterations on the Forms EC8A were altered and would have been thus uploaded as original polling units results at the Abatete Ward collation level.

 

 

 

(VANGUARD)

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