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INEC Commissioner expresses satisfaction, stakeholders worried over efficacy of card readers


INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner in charge of Borno,Yobe and Bauchi States, Col.Mohammed Hammanga (Rtd) has described the outcome of the trial elections conducted in Jama’are , Bauchi state, as satisfactory.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Jama’are on Saturday, Hammanga said the main objective of the exercise was to test the Card Reading devices, adding that the outcome indicated that they could be used successfully.

“The exercise was satisfactory. No Card Reader failed. We are happy with the turn-out of voters. The success is an indication that it is possible to use the Card Readers and ensure free and fair elections.

“The same exercise was carried out in the Federal Capital Territory some time ago, which was also successful,” he said.

The Commissioner said that the only problem identified during the exercise was the rejection of finger-prints of some people by the device.

He said the problem was a minor issue which could be resolve by filling a form for the affected persons, after which they could vote.

Speaking in the same manner, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Bauchi state, Prof. Hamman Sa’ad, said the trial election was successful and an indication that the Card Readers, were reliable.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bauchi is one of the 12 states selected for the trial elections.

The exercise was conducted in Ward B of Jama’are Local Government Area of the state.

Stakeholders express concern over efficacy of INEC’s card readers

Meanwhile, some stakeholders who participated in the test running of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) card readers in Anambra have expressed concern over the efficacy of the technology.

They expressed the view on Saturday at Igbo-Ukwu Ward 1 in Aguata Local Government Area of the state where INEC carried out test on the card readers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however, reports that the officials of the commission arrived the 22 polling units of the ward as early as 7 a.m and commenced the exercise by 8 a.m.

The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Edwin Nwatarali, said that some of the card readers could not capture the thumb prints of electorates due to greasy or dirty fingers.

“We, however, overcame that by making the voters to wash their hands and cleaning them properly before coming to thumb print.

“We believe that on the whole, the exercise was a success and the card reader will help us to have a good election on March 28 and April 11,” he said.

The Senator representing Anambra South Zone, Sen. Andy Uba, who also observed the process, said the card readers were working perfectly and would help to conduct credible elections.

“From what I have been told by INEC officials, the card readers show the number of people that were registered in a polling unit, and once they are accredited, it goes straight into the main server.

“In most cases, the card reader rejected the finger prints of the electorate, saying ‘verification failed,’ after identifying the permanent voter cards of the electorate as being authentic.

“The card readers also take time to accredit a voter which may delay accreditation in the main election where people are expected to turn out en mass,” Uba said.

Uba, also the Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, observed

The secretary of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in the state, Mr Isaac Onuka, urged INEC to return to the manual ways of accrediting voters.

He contended that the card readers may cause “confusion” in the electoral process.

“Some people who registered with their finger prints and captured suddenly comes back to vote and were told that the same fingers have been rejected by the machine.

“Again, how can the card reader which takes an average of five to ten minutes to accredit a voter cover 300 voters between the period of 8 a-m. and 1 p.m.,” Onuka asked.

The secretary also expressed concern over the life span of the battery of the card readers, saying “we noticed today that working for just two hours, the machine lost 40 per cent of its power”.

In his view, a member of a Civil Society Organisation, Mr Chris Azor, said that there was low turnout voters for the exercise due to poor sensitisation by INEC.

Azor, who is the President of International Peace and Civil Responsibility Centre (IPCRC), also said it took a lot of time to attend to a voter which mades the people to be agitated.

“In most cases people have to scrub their hands on the ground just to ensure that the machine recognises their print,” he said.

The president suggested that INEC should make use of voter registers where the card reader fails.

Azor further advised the commission to intensify campaign to avoid the possibility of voter apathy on the day of election. (NAN)

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