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2023: INEC to take full delivery of BVAS by December

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie (Abuja Bureau Chief) and Tina Abeku (Abuja)
19 November 2022   |   4:08 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again, reiterated commitment to conducting credible elections next year.

BVAS

Clears Air On Buried, Damaged PVCs, Others
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again, reiterated commitment to conducting credible elections next year.

Its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye, who represented the Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance yesterday at an interactive session with the media, assuring that INEC would take delivery of all Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) before end of December.

Considering the safety of the equipment in the face of incessant attacks on INEC facilities across the country, Okoye assuaged the fears of Nigerians, stressing that the machines would be fully secured. He added that while BVAS machines remain in INEC’s custody, the Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Okoye also took time to answer some nagging questions shrouding the activities of INEC towards a free and credible election in the coming year, such as the recently exposed cases of multiple and under-aged registration, burnt PVCs as well as the controversial alleged demotion and transfer of ICT staff from the Commission’s Headquarters.

According to Okoye, the Commission had tried in the recent past to clean its register of under-aged and multiple registrations, especially with the help of technology. He, however, noted that one of the reasons for displaying voters’ register was to get feedback from the public on areas that require corrections.

He admitted that though both under-aged persons and the issue of multiple registrations have been identified, such crimes are often perpetrated in partnership with community heads and some bad eggs in the Commission.

He informed that staff members allegedly involved in the malicious registrations are facing disciplinary action and would be handed over to the Police if eventually found guilty.

On the issue of buried PVCs and whether the Commission has apprehended those responsible and if the already damaged PVCs would be reprinted in order not to disenfranchise the owners, Okoye said the Commission has completed enquiry into the development, saying that the Commission, will address the public on the way forward.

Okoye equally cleared the air on the transfer of former Director of ICT, Engr. Chidi Nwafor to a state, which many felt was a ploy to manipulate INEC records, saying that such transfer was a routine exercise in Commission and had no sinister motive.

He said: “We assure all Nigerians that the processes and procedures as well as the preparations for the conduct of the 2023 general election are on course. Out of the 14 items in our Timetable and Schedule of Activities, we have implemented nine and we implemented all of them on schedule.

“We are comfortable with the level of our preparations and as the Chairman of the Commission has assured the nation, never again will scheduled elections be postponed or rescheduled on account of logistics and logistics challenges.”

On the display of the preliminary Voters Register, Okoye noted that the Commission would continue to be open and transparent in the management and running of the elections.

“We recognise and acknowledge the fact that election business is public business, and we will continue to seek the cooperation and partnership of all the critical stakeholders as we move to the last lap of our preparations for the election.

“The essence of the display is for Nigerians to double check the register and assist the Commission put in place a robust, comprehensive, and acceptable register. While it is important to use the social media to point out errors, issues and challenges in the register, the correction of the errors and removal of malicious registrations must follow the procedure and sequence outlined in section 19 and 20 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“We urge members of the public to approach our Revision Officers for assistance in making their claims, objections and complaints. We also encourage members of the public to visit the Commissions website and follow the protocols outlined therein in making their claims.

On PVC collection, Okoye noted that the Commission has worked out, approved and adopted the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for PVC collection.

“Yakubu will in the next few weeks, outline the fine details of the SOP. The Commission will ensure the seamless collection of PVCs by all eligible registrants.

“We assure all Nigerians that the PVCs of those that registered between January 15 and July 31, will be ready this month and the Chairman will give the exact date for collection.

“All those that registered within this period as well as all those that carried out transfer and those that applied for replacement will get their cards. Nigerians will have sufficient time for PVC collection. No Nigerian that validly and genuinely registered would be denied the opportunity of collecting his or her PVC,” Okoye said.

Meanwhile, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Associate Prof. Ahmed Audi, has said despite challenges and failings in the conduct of previous general elections, the 2023 elections will be successful because of the strengthened collaboration among law enforcement agencies in Nigeria as well as increased voters’ enlightenment.

Audi made the assertion while hosting a visiting delegation of Transparency International (TI) led by its Country Director, Anwal Rafsajani, at the Corps’ headquarters in Abuja.

A communiqué signed by the Public Relations Officer of the agency, Olusola Odumosu, noted that the CG explained that the continued synergy among sister law enforcement bodies in Nigeria would help to uphold, defend and sustain Nigeria’s democracy despite what the critics are saying.

“Historically, elections are marred by violence but be assured that the forthcoming elections will be successfully conducted against the expectations of naysayers who believe that we cannot get it right in Nigeria.

“The Corps will collaborate with civil society organisations to conscientise the populace against incitement of violence, thuggery, hate speeches and other forms of electoral malpractices and crime.”

Audi assured that elections will hold in all parts of the country and citizens will enjoy maximum protection during the period to exercise their franchise because the elections will be rancour free.

“The Corps are undergoing series of trainings and workshops to educate them on how to conduct themselves before, during and after elections as all hands must be on deck and no one is expected to fall short of expectations.”

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