Supreme Court says IReV failure may have reduced voters’ confidence

The apex court, however, ruled that IReV is not a collation centre but rather a platform that voters can use to monitor election results in real-time.

The Supreme Court has held that the non-functioning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Result Viewing portal (IReV) on the day of the presidential election may have reduced the voting public’s confidence in the electoral process.

On Thursday, October 26, 2023, a seven-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice John Inyang Okoro, delivered a verdict on the appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi.

The duo, alongside their parties, had contested the lower court’s judgement, which affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 election.

Atiku and Obi had argued before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that Tinubu’s election should be nullified on the grounds of alleged double nomination, certificate forgery, non-transmission of results electronically, 25% votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), amongst others.

Ruling on Atiku’s appeal, Justice Okoro said, “Truth must be told, the non-functioning of the IReV may also reduce confidence of the voting public in the electoral process.”

However, the panel maintained that the non-availability of election results on IReV was not a ground for the nullification of the February 2023 exercise.

Citing Section 135 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, Justice Okoro said the election shall not be liable to be invalidated because of non-compliance with electronic transmission of results.

“From the provisions of the Act stated above, it is crystal clear that the petitioner (Atiku) seeking to nullify the election on the grounds of non-compliance must not only lead evidence to prove the non-compliance but most also show to the court how the non-compliance substantially affect the outcome of the election.

“The appellants abandoned the duties imposed on them to lead credible evidence to prove non-compliance but relied solely on the failure of the first respondent (INEC) to transmit results in real-time to the IReV portal,” the justice held.

The apex court also aligned with the decision of the lower court that the IReV portal is not a collation centre but rather a platform for the public to view election results.

“Whereas the election system is made of centres where results are collated at various stages of the election, the INEC result viewing portal is to give the public the opportunity to view polling unit results on election day.

“What this means is that when the IReV portal fails, it does not stop the collation of results which up to the last election was manually done.

“The failure or malfunction of the IReV deprived the public and even election administrators and monitors the opportunity of viewing the portal and comparing the results collated with the ones transmitted into the IReV,” Justice Okoro said.

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