Nigeria: JEGA insists that use of card reader is important

By CHINYERE Ogbonna:- The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has insisted that the use of the card reader is very important is crucial for Nigeria’s general elections.

Professor Attahiru Jega

Professor Attahiru Jega

Professor Jega who explained that the device would read the card to verify whose details are on the chip of the card added that only cards produced by the INEC would be pass the verification.

“INEC have decided to do authentication bio-metrically by verifying fingerprints match the details on the card.

“If a card reader fails, does not function, or stops functioning, INEC must provide another one between the period of accreditation which is between 8:00am and 1:00pm.

“If they cannot replace the card reader, election would be suspended till the following day when a new card reader would be brought to the polling unit.”

He said the commission had met with political parties on the use of card readers and was worried that political parties were not sensitising people to collect their cards

The INEC boss opposed claims that the commission was distributing voter cards in some region more than others. “There is no proof to the saying,” he said, emphasising that “those whose PVCs were yet to be produced would have extended date for collection”.

Speaking on hacking of the device, Professor Jega believes the card reader cannot be hacked because it has been tested and proven, noting that there are more gains than losses in the use of the electronic device.

Speaking with newsman in Lagos, the INEC chairman also noted that collection of the voter card by proxy was prohibited because the commission was aware that politicians would take undue advantage of the process.

“We are confident that nobody can use another person’s card to vote,” he added.

He noted that loitering around after the exercise was not advisable, unless those voters wait peacefully for the ballot papers to be counted without being violent.

On Security, Professor Jega said the electoral umpire had received adequate assurance that security would be provided for the March 28 and April 11 elections.  “We are getting over seven hundred thousand ad-hoc staff and we cannot put the lives of this number of  people at risk… We have received full assurances that security would be provided for the elections,” he explained.

On the chances of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to take part in the election, the INEC Chairman said arrangements were made to carter for IDPs, the ones in camps and outside, in a few communities.

According to Professor Jega, arrangements have been made in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno to create centres were the IDPs can vote. He explained that “when the methodology for the IDPs was designed, it showed that there were fewer people in camps and more outside and so it was recommended that voting centres for IDPs should be outside the camps, while in Borno it was recommended that the voting centre should be inside the camps”.

He explained that those in the IDP camps were from different local governments, a situation that had it easier for the INEC to handle their participation.

“This makes it easier for us because my team have made an assessment to know those that have collected their PVCs. The polling unit will be set up in accordance to the local government that corresponds with the number of people in the camps,” he said.

Besides, Professor Jega also said that the card readers would be configured in accordance to the polling units and the number of persons that would vote there.

Furthermore, he stated that the INEC had made arrangement for persons outside the camps to have access to the polling units inside the camp.

“We are trying to create a level playing ground to enable IDPs outside the camp gain access to the camp so as to cast their votes without anyone stopping them.”

Professor Jega stated that the methodology for IDPs voting was discussed at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja which had in attendance chairmen of political parties and the Residents Electoral Commissioners, REC.

According to the INEC boss, they were mandated to relate the resolutions that were reached at the meeting in Abuja to stakeholders meeting in other states.

The  INEC Chairman noted that the chances of conducting elections in areas with security challenges depended on effective collaborations and working relationship between the security agents and officials of the Independent Electoral Commission,

He assured Nigerians that the commission would work closely with security agencies to ensure free, credible and fair polls come March 28 and April 11 respectively.