The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied the allegation, raised by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar,over a plot to make a U-turn on its plan to use Smart Card Readers (SCR) in the upcoming 2019 elections.
— Naija News (@NaijaNews) January 3, 2019
Naija news however recalls that the commission had some weeks ago reaffirmed its decision to foreclose the use of incident forms, insisting on 100 per cent use of smart card readers in the 2019 polls – a measure aimed at correcting abuses in previous elections.
However, in a statement signed by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, the former vice president said there were reports that contrary to its promise of 2018, made at different times and in multiple locations, that it would not use the “controversial” incident forms, “the Independent National Electoral Commission has backtracked and decided to allow the use of the unreliable incident forms.”
“This is unacceptable to the Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar. Any decision to use incident forms in the February 16, 2019 elections is an attempt to toe the line of President Muhammadu Buhari, who thrice refused to sign the amended Electoral Act, for fear of the use of card readers, which would prevent rigging by desperate power mongers,” the statement said.
The statement did not cite or clarify the “reports” were INEC “backtracked” on its plans to foreclose incident forms and make use of smart card readers.
Mr Ibe, however, made reference with an event on December 10 when INEC’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, assured “Nigerians that the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.”
“Our question is this – what has changed between December 10, 2018 and today? Has Professor Mahmood Yakubu caved into pressures from anti-democratic forces?
“At ₦143 billion, it is safe to say that more than enough funds were appropriated for the INEC to acquire and distribute Smart Card Readers, as such there is no reason for this 180 degree turn.”
But in a swift rebuttal, the INEC faulted Mr Abubakar’s claims.
“Did you get any statement from INEC saying we will not use smart card readers? If you want to believe what someone sat on his office and said, I have no comment about that. What I am saying is that we have concluded we will use smart card readers (in 2019 elections)”, INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said
“We have said categorically there will be no incident forms,” the official noted.
The electoral body used smart card readers in 2015 general elections as well as incident forms.
It was the failure of the smart card devices to read the biometric data of voters who turned up to perform their civic duties at various polling stations across the country in the March 28, 2015 Presidential election that informed the decision of INEC to deploy the incident forms.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was one of those unable to get accreditation with the electronic device when he turned up at his Unit 13 polling station in his hometown in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, to vote.
Despite about four of the devices deployed to ensure that the former president and his wife were accredited, he still ended up being accredited manually to vote during the exercise after being issued the INEC incidence form.
Many have criticized the use of incident forms saying it makes the process prone to rigging.
The PDP presidential candidate also noted in the statement that “data from the 2015 elections show that 75% of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015, were linked to President Muhammadu Buhari.”