Electronic transmission: NCC officials lied, must be sued for perjury – PDP Reps
The People’s Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives called for a criminal investigation and prosecution of Nigerian Communications Commission officials for alleged perjury.
PDP Caucus leader Kingley Chinda in a statement on Tuesday alleged officials lied under oath when they appeared before the House on Friday to explain the possibility of transmitting election results electronically from across Nigeria .
Following a deadlocked review of the 2010 Election Law (Amendment) report on controversial clause 52 (2), House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila requested suspension of the exercise and summoned the NCC and the Independent National Electoral Commission to appear and guide lawmakers on Friday.
While INEC did not show up, NCC officials headed by Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management), Adeleke Adewolu; The executive commissioner (technical services), Ubale Maska and two others had appeared before lawmakers.
Maska, however, answered all questions posed by lawmakers.
However, in the statement titled “NCC Lied to Nigerians About Electronic Voting and Should Be Prosecuted,” the PDP caucus alleged that the committee officials misled the House with their presentation.
The statement read: “It was a show of shame on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday, July 17, 2020 during the consideration of the bill amending the electoral law.
“The comedy of errors started with the House preventing INEC from appearing before the House to prevent the nation from learning the truth and only allowing NCC to appear to discuss issues of whether or not INEC was able to do so. manage the electronic transmission of votes.
“NCC officials, led by Executive Director Ubale Maska, who represented Executive Vice President Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta, appeared and were sworn in pursuant to Section 5 of the 2017 Law on Legislative chamber (powers and privileges).
“During his testimony before the House on the adoption of electronic transmission of unit results, Ubale Maska affirmed that the NCC’s 2018 technical report showed that only“ 50% of voting units had 3G while 49% had a 2G network. and lower. ‘ His responses and body language clearly betrayed his intense desire to deceive the House and the nation.
“He smartly sought to build on data from 2018 into 2021, when they knew or should know that internet penetration had increased dramatically in Nigeria since 2018.
“Indeed, a reading of the NCC website still shows today that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 (P. 33) indicates that by September 2019, the spread of 3G / LTE had reached 74.2% in Nigeria. ”
The caucus also recalled that a telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria, recently announced that it had achieved nationwide extended network coverage of 89.9%. “It’s just MTN, not to mention the other networks,” noted Chinda.
The statement further read: “Perhaps the worst form of perfidy, deception and outright lies is for NCC to hide the memorandum of understanding between NCC and INEC in 2019. In preparation for the 2019 general election , Mahmood Yakubu, President of INEC, had in January 2018 visited the NCC to discuss collaboration that would improve the electoral process.
“A joint technical committee of INEC and NCC was then formed with a mandate to develop strategies that would reduce human intervention in the transmission of election results. The committee was chaired by Maska and co-chaired by Muhammed Lecky, a national commissioner from INEC.
“After several meetings and engagements, it was then recommended that the Joint INEC / NCC Technical Committee review and adopt the traditional MNO data communication service using APNs as the most suitable solution for electronic transmission of election results. ‘”
According to the caucus, “the icing on the cake” is the categorical statement by INEC, through its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, that the commission has the capacity to transmit the results of the elections of any part of the country, regardless of the terrain.
Opposition lawmakers said Okoye’s confirmation “put the final nail in the coffin of suppliers of the error that it cannot be done,” recalling that electronic transmission was recently rolled out by the ‘INEC in the elections of Edo, Ondo, Borno, Kaduna, etc.
The statement added: “It is evident that there are fifth columnists and anti-democratic elements who fear free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“For a witness to take an oath under section 5 of the Legislative Chamber (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2017, and then lie under oath and give false testimony in the House, is an offense under the article 7 of the same law.
“We call on the prosecuting authorities to immediately arrest the NCC officials under Professor Danbatta and all those who caused Ubale Maska and other officials to lie under oath to be the subject of a criminal investigation and, if they are found guilty, to be brought to justice in a criminal trial.
“We must maintain the integrity of our laws and the sanctity of our institutions as a nation.”
On Friday, Maska was asked about the possibility of hacking into INEC’s electronic transmission system; whether the NCC has already carried out a countrywide coverage analysis; whether it is possible to download election results where there is no network such as online registration and banking; whether NIGCOMSAT can deploy a satellite that covers the whole country and provide survey services; whether additional unstructured service data can work.
Maska said in part, “The first question of whether the commission has done a nationwide network coverage analysis, particularly captured and uncaptured, which I prefer to mean served or unserved areas, and it can be broken down into states, I have to say here that, yes, we have this data. We have it nationwide, we have it state level, and we even have it on a service basis, whether it’s 2G, 3G or 4G or LTE. We have all of these analyzes.
“We did an analysis of the network coverage in 2018 for all voting units in the country. We found out that we had about 119,000; we were able to get the coordinates of about 109,000 and we plotted on the map of the country. We have superimposed the network coverage with that of the service providers.
“We have traced 2G, 3G and (4G) LTE coverage. We found that around half of the polling stations were covered by 2G / 3G services, or around 50.3 percent. Then about 49.7 had no coverage; they only had 2G and about 8,000 polling stations had none at all.
When asked if the results could be transmitted via a 2G network, the NCC official said that INEC was the appropriate authority to answer the question. ” From a personal point of view ; from what I could tell from what is required, only 3G could provide this type of transmission in its entirety, ”he added.
Regarding the hack, Maska said, “I’m sure we know here that there is no system that is safe from hacking. You can do your best to make it secure, but no system is 100% hack-free. I’m sure members of Parliament would have heard about the US elections in 2016 and the widespread belief that the elections were hacked by the Russians. Every day you read information about hackers breaking into banks, insurance companies, and other industries. So hacking is always a possibility.
Regarding the offline data capture, the NCC official said, “It is possible. You may be able to record it in an uncovered area and then physically move to another location. But, you cannot guarantee this kind of movement. It does not compare to the direct transmission from the source.
Maska, however, said he could not comment on NIGCOMSAT and its satellites.