INEC to test run card readers on Saturday
Group warns against its use
THE authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have said the commission rather than be distracted by calls for the removal of the head of the electoral umpire, Prof Attahiru Jega, the commission remains focused on capitalizing on the opportunity of the election postponement to perfect preparations for the success of the rescheduled polls.
To this end, the Commission said it will, next Saturday, carry out a simultaneous test run of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) it planned to deploy for accreditation of voters for the 28 March and 11 April, 2015 rescheduled election days in the country.
This is even as the commission said the collection of PVCs at the Ward or Registration Area Centers has continued across the country and already surpassed the eighty per cent (80%) threshold nationwide.
Also the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commission (REC) Administrative Secretary, Akin Orebiyi had yesterday confirmed thatfield tests would take place in two states of each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation and it would take place simultaneously on Saturday.
But in another development, a coalition of political parties along and some presidential candidates have threatened to boycott the general elections if card readers are used, saying it is unreliable and illegal.
The group under the aegis of Political Party Leaders and Presidential Candidates for Credible and Peaceful 2015 General Elections at a press conference yesterday in Abuja said the Card Readers being proposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will “create room for manipulation and ultimately will trigger the much anticipated electoral violence”.
A leader of the group, Onwubuya A. Breakforth, National Secretary, Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) said “ The concept of using card readers for this coming elections as being planned by INEC, has a lot of implications which may negatively impact on the conduct of a credible, free and fair elections on March 28 and April 11.
The first drawback, is that this device is relatively a new technology that has not been tested or tried in a kind of mock election or previous formal elections prior to this time.
“This would have enabled the nation and the electoral umpire itself, to properly ascertain its workability and efficiency in the conduct of the real general elections.”
Breakforth also said the card reader is a device which is susceptible to manipulations to favour particular candidates and in the process, disenfranchise many registered Nigerian voters or potential election winners.
The other parties according to Breakforth also include Prince Dare, National Chairman, MEGA Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), Peoples Party of Nigeria, Rafiu Salau, and Alliance for Democracy among others.
Some presidential candidates who were present included Chinedu Alagoa, Rafiu Salau and Prince Dare.
They insist that”if the card reader is used, we would boycott the elections and not participate, thereafter go to court.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Dr Chris Iyimoga said even though the Commission had satisfactorily tested the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) before the re-scheduling of the elections, it will this Saturday further conduct more rigorous field testing of the functionality of the SCRs which will be deployed for accreditation of voters in two states from each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation.
The states selected for the exercise to be carried out simultaneously 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).
The Voter Education Commissioner further assured that INEC has taken advantage of the six weeks of the extension of the election to further perfect its processes with a view to facilitate “the delivery of the best elections in the country’s annals.”
“Whereas, as at the time of the re-scheduling of the 2015 General Elections, the Commission was in a comfortable position to conduct the elections, it has take dvantage of the six weeks of the extension of the election to further perfect its processes.
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