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INEC to test-run Smart Card Readers on Saturday


IN its preparation for a hitch-free polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday revealed that it will on Saturday, test-run the Smart Card Readers (SMR) to convince Nigerians about the workability of the machines in electoral system.

Speaking in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti , Mr Sam Olumekun , said the state was one of the 12 states selected for the exercise among the 36 states in the country.

He said the exercise would cover “registration areas  cutting across rural, urban, humid, riverine, very hot or cold regions”, this willhelp test the card readers under all terrains.

Olumekun said Dallimore Ward 09, Ado Ekiti, with a total registered voters of about 21,631 out of which over 14, 461 had collected  their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), had been selected  for the exercise.

Olumekun expressed delight at the volume of PVCs already collected in the state which he puts at 509,343 as at March 3, 2015 (70 per cent), saying it was discovered that those who are yet to collect their voter cards were either dead or were students or travelers who once travelled to the state but left shortly after completing their mission in the state.

He disclosed that all candidates whose names were forwarded to it by their various parties are free to go ahead with the exercise without hindrance.

This is, however, not without a caveat as the electoral body said the fate of any candidate with petitions hanging on his neck still lies in the court which it said reserves the powers to disqualify or do otherwise.

Also, Olukekun at the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee, comprising all the security chiefs , said adequate provision of security would play a critical role in the success of the forthcoming polls, calling on the security personnel to brace up and display patriotism in the interest of the nation.

The INEC Chief said the test-run  idea was mooted to convince Nigerians about the  relevance  of the SMR and to identify the  challenges that could probably be encountered  and get ready to proffer solutions to them for Nigeria to have a hitch-free polls.

Revealing that INEC had taken delivery of sensitive and insensitive materials  from Abuja, Olumekun the REC hinted that INEC would create Registration Area Centres on the day of election to ease free movement of materials for prompt commencement of voting processes.

“Arising from some misgivings of certain sections and stakeholders about the use of smart card readers for voter authentication, the commission has decided that the device should be put to test under real settings to determine the efficacy of the machines, identify problems, if any with a view to rectify it.”

Olumekun added that the ward was selected in compliance with INEC’s set standard that the exercise should be performed in polling units with registered voters more than 300.

The REC posited that he will meet with all relevant stakeholders, including “politicians, traditional rulers , religious leaders andcivil society organizations” , to mobilize voters for the exercise.

Olumekun said the Commission is fully prepared for the elections, calling on Nigerians to join hands with it to prevent its efforts from being sabotaged.

“INEC has done a lot of work and we are only praying that we are not sabotaged. I want to assure Nigerians that INEC’s loyalty shall be to Nigeria and Nigerians and not to a particular section of the society.

“Free and fair conduct of elections is fundamental to the development of any nation. So, we are appealing for support from every Nigerian for us to achieve 100 per cent success”, he said.

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