NCC Officials Lied under Oath, Deserve Prosecution
The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives has demanded that executives of the Nigerian Communications Commission be investigated and prosecuted for alleged perjury.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the PDP Caucus chairman, Kingley Chinda, said that officials lied under oath while appearing before the House last Friday to discuss the viability of having election results transferred electronically across Nigeria.
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The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had called for a suspension of the exercise and summoned the NCC and the Independent National Electoral Commission to appear and guide the lawmakers this Friday after the report on the Electoral Act, 2010 (Amendment) Bill became stalemated over the controversial Clause 52(2).
While INEC officials were absent, NCC officials led by Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services; and two others came before the lawmakers.
Maska, on the other hand, answered all of the MPs’ queries.
The PDP caucus, however, claimed that members of the commission misled the House with their presentation in a statement headed, ‘NCC Lied to Nigerians on Electronic Transmission of Votes and Should Face Prosecution.’
“It was a show of disgrace on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday, July 17, 2020, during the debate of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill,” the statement stated in part.
“The comedy of errors began when the House barred INEC from testifying before the House in order to keep the nation from discovering the truth, instead allowing only the NCC to testify on INEC’s capabilities or inability to handle electronic voting transmission.
“NCC officials, led by Executive Director Ubale Maska, who represented Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umaru Garba Danbatta, attended and were sworn in according to Section 5 of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2017.”
“During his testimony before the House on the implementation of electronic transmission of results from polling units, Ubale Maska claimed that according to the NCC’s 2018 Technical Report, only roughly ‘50% of polling units had 3G, while 49% had 2G network and below.’ His replies and body language reflected his fervent desire to deceive the House and the rest of the country.
“He cleverly attempted to depend on 2018 data in 2021, when they knew or should have known that Internet penetration in Nigeria had increased significantly since 2018.”
“Indeed, a look at the NCC website today reveals that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 (P.33) claims that 3G/LTE coverage had reached 74.2 percent in Nigeria by September 2019.”
The caucus also remembered that MTN Nigeria, a telecommunications behemoth, recently reported that it had attained 89.9% countrywide network coverage.
“This is only MTN,” Chinda pointed out, “not to mention other networks.”
“Perhaps the worst kind of perfidy, deception, and blatant lying is for the NCC to conceal the Memorandum of Understanding between the NCC and INEC in 2019,” the statement continued. During the preparations for the 2019 general elections, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu visited the NCC in January 2018 to explore ways to improve the voting process.
“Subsequently, INEC and the NCC formed a joint technical committee with the objective of developing measures to eliminate human intervention in the transmission of election results. Maska led the committee, which was co-chaired by INEC National Commissioner Muhammed Lecky.
“It was therefore advised that the ‘INEC/NCC Joint Technical Committee should evaluate and accept the traditional data communication service from the MNOs using the APN as the most appropriate solution for the electronic transmission of election results’ after multiple meetings and engagements.”
The caucus considers INEC’s unambiguous announcement, made through its spokesman, Festus Okoye, that the commission has the competence to send election results from every area of the country, regardless of geography, to be “the frosting on the cake.”
According to the opposition lawmakers, Okoye’s confirmation “has placed the final nail in the coffin of the purveyors of the misconception that it cannot be done,” noting that INEC had recently used electronic transmission in elections in Edo, Ondo, Borno, and Kaduna.
“It is apparent that there are fifth columnists and anti-democratic groups in Nigeria who are frightened of free, fair, and credible elections,” the statement continued.
“If a witness is sworn under Section 5 of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2017, lying under oath and giving false evidence to the House is a crime under Section 7 of the same Act.
“We demand that the prosecuting authorities arrest all NCC officials under Prof Danbatta, as well as all those who bribed Ubale Maska and other officials to lie under oath, be legally probed, and if found liable, brought to justice through a criminal trial.
“As a nation, we must uphold the integrity of our laws and the dignity of our institutions.”
Oni requests that the conference committee support e-transmission.
Chief Olusegun Oni, a former governor of Ekiti State, advised the National Assembly on Tuesday not to squander the chance to harmonise the Electoral Bill in the Conference Committee and ensure electronic transmission of election results.
Oni, an Ekiti State governorship aspirant for the Peoples Democratic Party, reminded the country’s leaders, particularly members of the National Assembly and President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), that they were in office to serve the people, emphasising the importance of responding to public concerns and fulfilling the people’s desire for credible elections.
“As leaders, the Almighty God has given us the wisdom, knowledge, and wherewithal to do what is right and just, and in return, we must do everything possible to put in place a system that will allow the people to freely and fairly choose their leaders,” the former governor said in a statement titled, “The conduct of credible elections is service to God.”
“As a result, a conference committee of the National Assembly that will be tasked with harmonising the Electoral Bill must assure the unconditional transmission of results in the Electoral Act of 2021.”
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