INEC Insists On Card Reader For Governorship Polls

Card readerThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will maintain the use of card readers for the verification of voters during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.

INEC disclosed this in a statement by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, on Monday.

The statement read: “The provision of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 general election which outlined what is to be done if a card reader fails and cannot be replaced by the commission within the specified time frame (i.e. reschedule the election to the next day) will be enforced.

“The relaxation of the guidelines on March 28 was only with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly election held on that date.

“The Commission has reviewed the operation of the card reader in the 28th March elections, identified the challenges and has taken adequate measure to address them.”

Accreditation of voters during the March 28 election drew mixed reactions as the incumbent President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and the First Lady could not be accredited with the card reader. At his home town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s card and that of his wife, Patience could not pass the process.

Channels Television correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi reported that several card readers were tried but his card and that of his wife could not be read by three different card readers.

While President Jonathan urged all Nigerians to be patient with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians in different parts of the country had since urged INEC to review the use of the card reader, citing challenges faced during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, called the overall performance of the card reader device in the state ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.

“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages,” Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, ‘Nigeria 2015’.

He explained that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his polling unit,  while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC. Even after their arrival, the card reader failed to work.

“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.

The governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had also urged the commission to make another pronouncement on the use of the card reader for the governorship and National Assembly elections.

Jega On Card Reader Flop

However, there had been an indication that the faith of INEC in the card reader technology remained strong despite the challenges faced on election day.

INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

In an interview with Channels Television about 24 hours after the presidential elections, he said: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.”

 

Card Reader Flop: Jega Says Number Insignificant

JegaThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, has expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their peaceful conduct during the presidential elections on Saturday, March 28.

The INEC boss, in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday night, expressed gratitude to the Almighty for how peaceful the process has been and for the large turnout of Nigerians who showed patience in the face of frustrations.

“Of course, man proposes and God disposes. We thought that this would be near perfect but regrettably there have been challenges,” he said.

“There were still cases of late distribution of materials and late arrivals in polling units but in spite of this we think its been very good also.

“We cannot but thank Nigerians for the passion they have shown, and the commitment to be able to vote in this general elections.”

Professor Jega was particularly happy about the exercise in the north-east region of the country where there had been fears of insecurity.

Election Postponement

He also explained that elections which failed to hold on Saturday will only be conducted in 13 federal constituencies and that will be on April 11.

He explained that the polls would have to be moved to that date as a result of shortage of electoral materials.

Prof. Jega said that the decision was agreed to by all relevant stakeholders, who unanimously asked for all 11 federal constituencies in Jigawa State be moved to April 11 even though only seven federal constituencies were affected.

The INEC boss, however, looked on the bright side when he compared the situation with what obtained in 2011.

“Federal constituencies alone we rescheduled over 60 and then we also rescheduled some senatorial because of shortages of materials,” he recalled.

Nevertheless, he expressed regret over the challenges faced. He stated that lessons have been learnt, which would be factored into preparations for the governorship and State Assembly elections holding on April 11.

Card Reader Flop

Professor Jega admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

“From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.

“Thank God it went well. The only challenge is that it meant the voting has gone on in some places into late evening and early night.”

He expressed confidence in the assurance given by security agencies that all arrangements had been made to secure all the polling units and ensure the successful completion of voting as well as a successful collation of the results.

Card Reader Performance A Disaster In Anambra – Obiano

obianoAnambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has called the overall performance of the card reader device in the State ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.

“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages”, Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, Nigeria 2015.

He went further to explain that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his Polling Unit,  while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC, however, the card reader was not working.

“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.

“I had to now call Professor Jega to say – Prof, this card is not working anywhere in Anambra. Prof said it is not true”, Obiano said, noting that the INEC Chairman disagreed with his report, afterwhich he (Obiano) called President Goodluck Jonathan to “show my displeasure at what is going on”.

However, the card readers eventually worked at about 2:00pm, Obiano disclosed, adding that his 10 fingerprints were not accepted by the device.

“We did it about three to four times, 10 fingers, it didn’t go through. They now used the register”, he said, also noting that he was not given an incidence form.

The governor also listed other issues recorded in the State including non availability of result sheets at some polling units as well as cases of thuggery.

Manual accreditation was eventually applied in the State.

Commenting on the extension of voting exercise till Sunday, Obiano advised the umpire body to learn from mistakes made to get more organised and ensure prompt arrival at polling units and better performance of the card readers.

Labour Party Sues For Peace Within NLC

LabourThe Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Labour Party, Comrade Salisu Mohammed, has appealed to all those that contested in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) election, to sheath their swords in order to have a united labour front.

Addressing a news conference  in Abuja on the crisis rocking the NLC in Abuja, Comrade Mohammed said that the party is worried about the division in the labour union over the outcome of the election.

The Chairman of the Labour Party, who denounced the endorsement of any presidential candidate by the Labour Party, added that it was not in the interest of Nigerian workers to have a parallel NLC.

Meanwhile, workers from different unions including; Electricity Workers Union, Nigerian Textile Workers Union and NUPENG are among those opposing the results of the election that declared Ayuba Waba President of the workers’ union.

YDP Tasks INEC Over New Ballot Papers

ydpMembers of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) are insisting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should re-print ballot papers that will include the party in the forthcoming elections or reschedule the date for the polls.

The YDP secured a court victory over INEC on Wednesday when a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the inclusion of the party in the general elections.

YDP is a political party with young people forming the majority of its members.

The party was not listed among parties contesting in the 2015 general elections until the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered INEC to issue a certificate.

Following the judgement of the court, the leadership of the party is insisting that INEC must print new ballot papers, to include its name and candidacy or shift the election date further.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Peoples Party has also clarified allegations that it is among those calling for the sack of Prof. Attahiru Jega.

Members of the DPP have said that they have confidence in the electoral body and the introduction of the card readers during the polls.

The DPP has no presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections, rather it has adopted the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Court Refuses To Make Interim Order Against Use Of Card Readers

card readersA Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has refused an application brought by four registered political parties, seeking to restrain the electoral commission from using Smart Card Readers in the conduct of the general elections.

The United Democratic Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria and Alliance for Democracy filed the suit.

The parties, through their counsel Alex Iziyon, told the court that the proposed use of the readers was contrary to the provisions of the constitution, as well as the amended 2010 Electoral Act.

In the suit, the political parties challenged the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to introduce a process not specifically provided for in the constitution, as it prepares for the rescheduled polls.

Mr Iziyon told the court that the Electoral Act, in section 52(1), prohibited electronic voting, but that the electoral body had gone ahead to introduce electronic voter’s card reader.

The counsel urged the court to temporarily restrain the INEC from implementing the use of the card reader machine in the forthcoming elections, pending the determination of the suit.

He further urged the court to bridge the time within which INEC would be allowed to file a response, in view of the nature of the case which according to him had a robust electoral jurisprudence.

In his ruling on the exparte motion, the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, noted that the political parties had shown that they had legal rights, showing that the case is triable, but observed that the parties would not suffer any irreparable harm if the electoral body is given the opportunity to be heard before the interim orders being sought could be granted.

Consequently, the court declined to make any interim orders against INEC on the proposed use of the Smart Card Readers.

However, it abridged the time for INEC to file its response to four days, after receiving court papers on the matter.

Hearing on the substantive motion on notice was thereafter adjourned until Tuesday, Mar 10.

INEC To Test Card reader

In a statement on Monday, the INEC said it will conduct a field testing of the functionality of the Smart Card Readers to be deployed for the accreditation of voters on Election Day. The General Elections was re-scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

According to the Commission’s Decision Extract issued on February 26 and signed by the Director of the Commission’s Secretariat, Ishiaku Gali, the field testing will take place in two states of each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation.

He said the testing would take place simultaneously on Saturday, March 7.

The states selected for the exercise are: Ekiti and Lagos, South West; Anambra and Ebonyi, South East; Delta and Rivers, South South; Kano and Kebbi, North West; Bauchi and Taraba, North East; Niger and Nasarawa, North Central.