Electronic transmission of election results can be hacked - NCC

Only about 50% of all the polling units in Nigeria have required network coverage to transmit.

Attempts to make Nigeria's electoral process include more electronic devices are meeting stiff resistance in the National Assembly [Quartz)

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says only half of the polling units in Nigeria have the required network coverage to electronically transmit election results.

NCC Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Ubale Maska, testified before the House of Representatives on Friday, July 16, 2021 that 3G network is needed to conduct electronic transmission.

A network coverage study conducted by the NCC in 2018, ahead of the 2019 general elections, showed only about 50% of all the polling units in the country are covered as required.

The electronic transmission of votes is the most contentious provision in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which is expected to reform electoral processes in the country.

Voting on the provision caused verbal and physical altercations between members during plenary on Thursday, July 15.

This prompted the invitation of the NCC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Friday's plenary to enlighten lawmakers.

House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his opening statement announced that the invitation to INEC was later withdrawn, leaving just the NCC to testify.

Maska said election results can be electronically captured offline in an area with no network coverage and then transmitted by physically moving to a network-covered area, but that this does not compare with direct transmission from the source.

The NCC official also said the commission cannot guarantee that electronic transmission of election results cannot be sabotaged by hackers.

"No system is safe from hacking. Hacking is always a possibility," he said.

At the conclusion of NCC's presentation, lawmakers passed the bill with the original provision that INEC may transmit election results through any procedure the commission determines.

In its own passage of the bill on Thursday, the Senate empowered NCC to first certify that national coverage is adequate and secure before INEC can decide to deploy the use of electronic transmission.

The National Assembly must also approve the decision, according to the provision which similarly split the chamber.

Many lawmakers have stood against electronic transmission, complaining that their areas don't have network coverage.

The split on the topic has been guided by regional and party affiliations with northern lawmakers and/or members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against INEC being in control; and southern lawmakers and/or members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in favour of INEC deploying electronic transmission.

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