Abuja – Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday voted to amend a law to allow the country’s electoral commission to decide on electronic transfer of vote results ahead of the 2023 presidential ballot.
It is a contentious issue in Nigeria where elections have often been marred by fraud claims and court challenges since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.
Senators approved an electoral law reform in July, but the ruling APC party and opposition lawmakers disagreed over whether the independent electoral commission (INEC) could decide on the electronic transfer of results.
The APC had said the INEC could manage transfers only with the approval of the national telecoms commission, which outraged opposition lawmakers who feared it would undermine the body’s independence.
Senators voted on Tuesday to empower the INEC to decide.
“This would allow INEC where they have the necessary wherewithal and competence” to decide on using electronic transfer, Senate spokesperson Ajibola Basiru from APC told reporters.
“They don’t need to come back for us to introduce electronic voting machines as part of the materials they will use for election.”
President Muhammadu Buhari will be stepping down after serving two four-year terms, and political leaders are already jockeying for position before the February 2023 ballot to replace him.
The INEC came under fire after Buhari’s re-election in 2019 over claims the ballot was not free or transparent in the country of 210 million people.
The opposition challenged the results in court in part because of concerns over the legality of the electronic transfer of ballot tallies.
Buhari won 56 percent of the 2019 vote, but his rival Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) filed a challenge in the Supreme Court.
The court upheld Buhari’s election, but concerns over fairness and transparency of the electoral process and INEC have persisted.