A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by THE WHISTLER to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking clarification on how the commission intends to manage the results of Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections has been unheeded in violation of the FOI Act.
THE WHISTLER reports that INEC failed to respond to the FoI request within the time limit prescribed in Section 4 of the FOI Act.
Tajudeen Suleiman, Editor of the newspaper, wrote the FoI request in view of the controversy that trailed INEC’s failure to transmit the results of the presidential and national assembly elections of February 25, in line with its own laws.
THE WHISTLER reports that three weeks after the conclusion of those elections, INEC has yet to complete the electronic transmission of the results to a dedicated public portal known as the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IRev).
Despite this infraction which has resulted in the loss of public trust and litigations against INEC, the commission has failed to convincingly assure the voters that the results of the state elections taking place on Saturday would be transmitted to the portal without hitches.
In our FoI request dated March 3 and acknowledged by INEC on March 7, THE WHISTLER asked the electoral umpire to clarify what “the procedure for voting and collation of results” for Saturday’s election is and “What MODE would INEC adopt for the transmission of results on March 11, 2023 from the PUs to the collation centers.”
But 10 days after acknowledging the letter, INEC has yet to provide answers or seek an extension of the 7-day time limit to grant or refuse THE WHISTLER’s request.
Section 4 of the FOI Act instructs that “Where information is applied for under this Act the public institution to which the application is made shall, subject to sections 6, 7, and 8 of this Act, within 7 days after the application is received –
“(a) make the information available to the applicant
“(b) Where the public institution considers that the application should be denied, the institution shall give written notice to the applicant that access to all or part of the information will not be granted, stating reasons for the denial, and the section of this Act under which the denial is made.”
While we report that the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated on March 4 that issues pertaining to non-transmission of the presidential results have been rectified, we equally note that results from 10,364 polling units in the February 25 elections have yet to be uploaded to the portal as of March 17.
“Since last week, the Commission has intensified the review of the technology to ensure that glitches experienced, particularly with the upload of results are rectified. We are confident that going forward the system will run optimally,” Yakubu had said at the meeting.