E-Voting innovators demand N77bn from INEC, FG, for suppressed proposal

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Dr Adah Edache Obekpa and Renaissance Network Africa (RNA) have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) over alleged suppression of their contributions to the introduction of electronic voting (E-voting) in Nigeria.

Dr Obekpa, a US-based medical professional, and RNA, an organisation working for the unification of Africa and its Diaspora through trade, tourism, and innovative endeavours, claim to have proposed the E-voting system to INEC in 2010 and presented the “Renaissance I-voting Proposal for INEC” to Prof Mahmud Jega on behalf of INEC in October 2010.

“Our clients, Dr. Adah Edache Obekpa and Renaissance Network Africa (RNA), firmly believe in the rights of creators to benefit from and be recognised for their innovative contributions,” a statement issued on Sunday, April 2, 2023 by the innovator’s lawyers, Jonathan Akeme, said.

“They view INEC’s actions in circumventing their pioneering I-voting proposal as a violation of these fundamental rights.

“Our legal action seeks to protect not only our clients’ interests but also to uphold the principles of transparency, justice, and fair recognition for inventors and innovators.

“It is our belief that these values must be honored and defended in this matter,” he ended.

The proposal, prepared by Layer3, was given comprehensive media coverage with a special news briefing on the subject matter hosted by Dr Obekpa at the Unity Hall of Reiz Continental Hotel, Central Business District, Abuja, on October 23, 2010.

According to Dr Obekpa and RNA, the I-voting proposal for INEC is the same in contents, features, design, and operation as the Biometric Verification System (BIVAS) tech device and INEC online result viewing portal (IReV).

They allege that the failure of the BIVAS and IReV, as well as the lack of complete transparency in the just-concluded 2023 general elections, is a result of INEC’s refusal to adopt salient security features contained in the I-voting proposal submitted to the commission.

The plaintiffs allege that INEC jettisoned the system protocol’s transparency features, including using another iPhone as a hidden camera discreetly placed in the polling booth where the ballot box resides.

Its purpose is to record the whole electoral process and the voters as they vote. They also allege that the sharing of polling unit results with political parties and the media in real-time when the results are sent to INEC’s server was not adopted by INEC.

Dr Obekpa and RNA are aggrieved that they have neither received any credit from INEC nor been recognised by the FGN for being the first to introduce the E-voting system to the commission as far back as 2010.

They claim that INEC deliberately suppressed all information relating to them as originators of the idea leading to the introduction of the BIVAS and IReV portals.

Dr Obekpa and RNA have accordingly approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court (FHC) for redress in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/391/2023 now before Justice I. E. Ekwo of Court No. 7. In the said Suit instituted on their behalf by their lawyer, Jonathan Akeme, Esq, they are praying the court to direct INEC and FGN to compensate them in the sum of N77 billion for their novel and innovative I-voting proposal, which birthed the BIVAS and IReV, and to be publicly recognised.

INEC and the FGN are yet to respond to the allegations levelled against them by Dr Obekpa and RNA.

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