INEC to take full delivery of BVAS by December, says Okoye
*Clears air on buried, damaged PVCs, others
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again, reiterated its commitment to conducting credible elections next year.
It’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye, who represented the Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance yesterday at an interactive session with the media, assured that INEC will 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 the 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 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 some PVCs that were buried, if the Commission has apprehended those responsible and if the already damaged PVCs would be reprinted in order not to disenfranchise owners, Okoye stated that the Commission has completed an enquiry into the development and that the Chairman of 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 the state, which many felt was a ploy to manipulate INEC records.
He stressed 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 will 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 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 Commission’s 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.
“The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu will in the next few weeks, outline the fine details of the SOP. The Commission will ensure the seamless collection of Permanent Voters Cards by all eligible registrants.
“We assure all Nigerians that the PVCs of those that registered between the 15th of 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 will be denied the opportunity of collecting his or her Permanent Voters Card”, Okoye said.
The Commission also reiterated that BVAS and THE INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) have come to stay. It held that the use of the BVAS and IREV are legal requirements, and the Commission is irrevocably committed to their use in the 2023 general election.
According to Okoye, the use of the BVAS is mandatory “We canvassed for the inclusion of the BVAS and the Electronic Transmission of Results in the Electoral Act. We have a responsibility to keep faith with our won innovations aimed at the conduct of transparent elections driven and propelled by technology.”
Adding: “On security, we are mapping levels of threats and risks and sharing our findings with the various security agencies. The Commission has received assurances from the various security agencies that Nigeria will be safe for election as measures have been put in place to ensure a free and hitch-free election.”