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INEC vows insists on Smart Card Reader deployment

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has vowed to continue to use and deploy Smart Card Readers in every election in Nigeria. The electoral umpire disclosed this in a statement issued by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, last week in Abuja. In the statement, the INEC said that the card readers would be deployed for elections, including the rerun elections in Kogi West Senatorial District, Ajaokuta Federal Constituency and Sabuwa State Constituency elections holding on Saturday. The Commission stated that the clarification became necessary owing to the incorrect statement credited toOkoye at a program by the Situation Room, which gave the impression that Smart Card Readers were no longer useful in the electoral process. “To the contrary, the National Commissioner spoke in the context of attempts by some political interests to willfully by-pass the Smart Card Reader (SCR) during elections to inflate
their votes. “They do this against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision that the SCR is not to be used exclusively to determine over-voting.” The commission noted that it introduced the Smart Card Readers(SCR) in the electoral process principally as additional confirmatory and authentication mechanism that would guarantee more efficiency in the electoral process, adding that the mechanism was to determine the authenticity of cards presented by voters and eliminate impersonation, which were serious challenges to the electoral process in Nigeria. According to the INEC the SCR was designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and eliminate multiple voting. The Commission reminded political parties, candidates, poll agents and the electorate that resistance to the use of the SCR and obstruction and resistance to the deployment/distribution of electoral materials constituted unlawful truncation of the electoral process, and warned that consequently zero votes would be entered for the affected polling unit. “In accordance with Section 49(1 & 2) of the Electoral Act,
2010 (as amended) and Clause paragraph 10(a) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, a person intending to vote with his voter’s card shall be verified to be the same person on the Register of Voters by use of the Card SCR. “Furthermore, by paragraph 10(bi of the said Regulations and Guidelines, “Any Poll Official who violates the provisions of paragraph 10(a) relating to the use of the Smart Card Reader shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution”. “The commission will continue to work with the National Assembly and all the critical stakeholders to reduce malpractices in our electoral process, including over voting. “As part of this process, strengthening the legal basis of the use of the SCR, as well as other amendments that will advance the electoral process would be vigorously pursued. “The commission will also continue to work with the security agencies and other stakeholders to prevent individuals and/or groups from undermining the use and application of the Smart Card Reader in elections.”

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