Anambra Elections: New Technology Discourages Rigging- INEC

2019: Election results will be transmitted electronically from polling  units – INEC - Vanguard News

Moses Ofodeme

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, has foreclosed any form of rigging in the upcoming Governorship elections in Anambra State.

Yakubu, said with the deployment of new technology in the conduct of elections in Nigeria, begining with the governorship election in Anambra State, rigging will be reduced significantly if not totally eliminated.

The Chairman gave the assurance while speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday held in Awka, as it prepares to conduct the first governorship election in Nigeria using the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device, which it said would eliminate double voting and rigging.

According to him, “Anambra State will make history as the first Governorship election in Nigeria in which the Commission will deploy the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device.”

He said the new device replaces the Smart Card Reader (SCR) used in previous elections since 2015.

He expressed satisfaction with the pilot deployment of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021.

He explained that the BVAS has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial authentication of voters. This is to guard against voting by identity theft where one person uses another person’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to vote using the incident form, according to the INEC Chairman.

He pointed out that, “With this development, the use of the incident form is abolished. No voter without a genuine PVC will vote. No voter who has not been successfully accredited electronically using the BVAS will vote.”

Explaining futher why the BVAS was deployed, he said it is equipped with a camera and has the capacity to snap Polling Unit level result and upload same to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal so that citizens can view results as election is concluded in each Polling Unit.

“Therefore, there is no need for the Z-Pad since its functions have been embedded in the BVAS,” Mahmood added.

He said based on assessment, all the BVAS required for the election on Saturday have been configured and delivered to the state.

Also, “Election duty staff have also been trained on the use of the device and we have sufficient technical staff to respond to any glitches that may occur.”

On the general preparation for the election, Mahmood said that “the non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.

“The sensitive materials are secure in the branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) here in Awka,” Mahmood informed.

He pointed out that as a tradition, INEC will invite political parties, civil society organisations and the media to the CBN to inspect the sensitive materials and to witness their movement to the various Local Government Areas under security escort.

“By the same arrangement, the materials will be delivered to the Registration Areas or Wards on Friday 5th November 2021 to facilitate the opening of Polling Units at 8.30am on Election Day.”

The INEC boss assured voters in Anambra State that in designing the sensitive materials for the election, the Commission has introduced additional visible and invisible security features, including different colour codes.

According to him, “Materials have also been customized by Local Government Areas and Polling Units.”

He warned those who may attempt to compromise the process that sufficient safeguards to detect counterfeits have been put in place.

He added that, “INEC are determined to prosecute perpetrators of electoral malpractice, including any election duty staff found to be complicit.

“The choice of the next Governor of Anambra State is in the hands of the eligible voters and their will must prevail,” Mahmood said.

Speaking on the concern expressed about the availability of PVCs for new registrants in Anambra State, Mahmood explained that the end of the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration.

“After cleaning up the data, the Commission identified and archived 62,698 multiple registrants. Consequently, the number of valid registrants is 76,104.’

He said this figure has been added to 5,674 requests for transfer, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs, bringing the total of valid registrations to 81,774.

“I am glad to report that the PVCs have been printed and delivered to all the Local Government Areas for collection by voters. We have also contacted the voters by text messages and e-mail addresses and informed them of the exact locations to collect their cards.”

Speaking further, Mahmood said Anambra Governorship election is the first time that voting is taking place in polling units since the recent successful conversion of voting points arising from the expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria.

He informed that an additional 1,112 polling units were established in Anambra State in addition to the existing 4,608 locations.

“This brings the total number of polling units in the State to 5,720.”

He said the Commission has compiled a comprehensive list of all the Polling Units without voters as well as those having under 50 registered voters.

On accomodating Persons With Disability (PWDs) during elections, he said the Commission has introduced assistive devices for them.

These devices he said include the Braille Ballot Guide and magnifying glasses at polling units for the visually impaired as well as voter education posters for the hearing-impaired.

“I am glad to report that the Braille Ballot Guide and magnifying glasses will be deployed in the election this Saturday.

“I wish to reassure you that INEC will remain an equal opportunity Commission for all Nigerians irrespective of disability. As an affirmation of this commitment, data on disability is being collected in the ongoing CVR to enable us to serve this category of voters better,” he said.

He reminded political parties, candidates and their supporters that vote buying is illegal under Nigerian laws.

He reiterated that the ban on the use of smart phone or other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force, pointing out that “the anti-graft agencies, who are members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), will deploy their personnel to arrest and prosecute violators.”

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