The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said there is no going back on the use of card readers for the April 11 governorship elections, assuring Nigerians that the machines would function properly this time around.
The use of the card reader for the presidential and national assembly elections exposed some flaws associated with its use, which led to the renewal of calls for INEC to discontinue its use for this Saturday’s governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
Reacting to the calls, the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, said the factors responsible for the initial technical glitches associated with the card reader had been identified and adequate measures taken to forestall a recurrence.
“Some of the networks that the cards were fixed on had challenges”, he said.
“That was the complaint on that day but you will discover that in the course of time, these card readers that they said were malfunctioning started to function; that was when they got the word across to them to remove those SIM cards to heat it with the phone before they insert again.
“The device itself, in terms of the product quality, is of very high integrity; that we have demonstrated and proven. So we know what accounted for those challenges and we are working on them”.
Idowu said contrary to the impression that the card readers marred the exercise, the challenges, he observed, only occurred in very few polling units.
“We had challenges with the card readers in less than one per cent of the 155, 000 polling units across the country”, he said.
“It was only unfortunate that we had issues in high-profile places like Otuoke (hometown of the president in Bayelsa) and when you have such a thing, it overwhelms other areas. But like I said, we have identified those areas and we are working on them”.
Responding to the allegations of underage voters, rigging and related complaints, the INEC chairman’s spokesperson challenged people who have evidence of such electoral malpractice to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to such issues.
“In the election environment, the presiding officer is the president of that environment. But we also have observers and party agents and if there are issues and the presiding officer is not noting it, the agents and observers could draw his or her attention to such issue and when they do that, the presiding officer has the power to request the security agents to apprehend the underage voters.
“I have seen pictures of underage voters, but unlike the case of the thumb printing where the polling units were mentioned, I find it difficult to place, to know the polling units where underage voters were allowed to vote.
“All you have is anecdote and anecdotes don’t help. It is incident reports that are valid. If the presiding officer, for whatever reason, does not act, INEC has a situation room that you can reach”, he said.