A report by Premium Times indicates that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) received N1.47 billion to replace and maintain computer servers for use during the 2019 general elections.
The online medium reported that it was not clear how the servers, which store computer data, were used during the polls, adding that the finding raises fresh concerns over the commission’s recent claim it had no server for the elections.
It was gathered that determining whether the commission operated a central computer database that received election results has become central to the 2019 presidential election dispute, after former vice president Atiku Abubakar, said results on the server proved he defeated President Muhammadu Buhari.
The electoral commission declared Buhari winner of the February 16 election but Abubakar, his main challenger, rejected the decision, saying his victory was suppressed by INEC. The INEC has disputed Abubakar’s claims, and has denied transmitting election results electronically or saving them on a server. The online medium claimed to have seen details of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections, adding that the spending plan shows the electoral body collected from the federal government N1.47 billion for servers.
Though, it requested for N2.27 billion. It was not clear whether the servers were used for the elections or whether election results were transmitted electronically. INEC insists it did not send results electronically to a server, but some ad hoc staff used during the polls have claimed they were instructed to send the results to a “central server.”
A spokesperson for the commission, Festus Okoye, said the budget for servers was made in anticipation that President Buhari would sign the amended Electoral Act to allow electronic transfer of voting results
He said the commission would at the appropriate time explain to Nigerians how it expended the money it got for servers and the entire huge N143.5 billion budget it got for the polls. Abubakar, backed by his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said he won the election with about 1.6 million votes, contrasting the results released by INEC. The former vice president said he sourced his figures from INEC’s database.
In response, INEC strongly denied operating a server for the election, saying such activities were not permitted by the electoral law. The commission also accused Abubakar of circulating fake results. Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) also sided with the electoral umpire and alleged criminal interception of a public institution’s communication by Abubakar and the PDP. In a response to INEC’s denial of the server and its purported result, Abubakar has submitted affidavits from 12 persons they said worked for INEC as election officials.