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2023 Elections: INEC Releases New Guidelines, Bars Use Of Smartphones At Voting Cubicles

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the ‘Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022’ which would be used for general, off-cycle, bye-elections, re-run and supplementary elections.

The regulations and guidelines are issued pursuant to Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022 and they supersede all other regulations and/or guidelines on the conduct of elections issued by the commission.

The 37-page document, released by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, contains 106 guidelines and regulations for elections as well as health measures during conduct of elections.

Yakubu released the document on Friday in Abuja at the special meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

Highlights of the document include Article 30, where the commission said that telephones and electronic devices capable of taking pictures are not allowed in polling booths.

Article 30, ‘Prohibition of the Use of Telephones and Other Electronic/Photographic Devices in the Voting Cubicle,’ states that, “Telephones and other electronic devices capable of taking pictures are not allowed in voting cubicles.

“Voters may come to the Polling Unit with telephones and other electronic devices provided that they do not take them to the voting cubicles or take pictures of other voters while they are voting.”

INEC, among others, also approved the electronic transmission of election results in the new guideline.

In article 38, ‘Electronic Transmission of Results and Upload of Results to IReV,’ the commission stated that, “On completion of all the Polling Unit voting and results procedures, the Presiding Officer shall:

“(i) Electronically transmit or transfer the result of the Polling Unit, direct to the collation system as prescribed by the Commission.

“(ii) Use the BVAS to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), as prescribed by the Commission.

“(iii) Take the BVAS (Bimodal Voter Accreditation System) and the original copy of each of the forms in tamper evident envelope to the Registration Area/Ward Collation Officer, in the company of Security Agents. The Polling Agents may accompany the Presiding Officer to the RA/Ward Collation Centre.”

The new regulations and guidelines cover elections and arrangements for their conduct, accreditation and voting procedure at elections, and collation of election results.

They apply to the conduct of elections to offices of: “President and Vice President; Governor and Deputy Governor; National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives); State Houses of Assembly; Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils; and Councilors of FCT Area Councils Legislature.”

Yakubu said with the implementation of the Electoral Act 2022, it had become necessary to review the commission’s regulations and guidelines to govern the conduct of elections.

He said the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and the regulations and guidelines constitute the electoral legal framework.

“With the release of the regulations and guidelines today, and the publication of the Strategic Plan (SP) 2022-2026 and Election Project Plan 2023 earlier, the commission has virtually concluded the planning processes for the 2023 general elections nine months ahead of the elections.

“In the next couple of weeks, the training manual will also be presented to Nigerians. Going forward, the commission will focus on election administration: logistics, training, voter education, technology, sensitization against vote buying, inclusivity measures and, above all, security. ICCES will continue to play a critical role and the Commission appreciates the support of all security agencies,” he said.

First published in Daily Trust

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