2023: INEC expresses concerns over insecurity, says no going back on BVAS

AHEAD of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that insecurity and political thuggery could pose major challenges in the conduct of the polls.

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu stated this while speaking at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Washington DC, United States, on Wednesday.

He said although insecurity used to be a localised phenomenon, majorly in the North-East, it has now become an issue of concern with banditry in the North-West and the activities of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the South-East.

“The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organised by some of the political actors,” he said.

“I say it is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localised or confined to a particular part of the country, the North-East.

“But now, it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes, particularly on the North-West and the southeastern parts of the country.’’

While expressing concerns over the security and safety of INEC staff and officials, as well as electoral materials, and voters, Yakubu said he had been assured by all relevant security agencies that “the situation will improve before the elections”.

“So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections.”

Speaking further, Yakubu said that the INEC’s adoption of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine and the electronic transmission of election results have come to stay and there was no going back.

He said BVAS has eliminated multiple accreditations that were observed in previous elections, and it has increased public confidence in the outcome of elections, as shown in the recent off-cycle elections.

“It has eliminated the use of the Incident Form. For those of you who have been following our elections for a long time, when the Card Reader was introduced, the machine would read the card, but it may not read the biometrics.

“So, when it fails to read the biometrics, they then say – give the voter the Incident Form. And through that, many people voted using identity theft. We have eliminated the Incident Form.






     

     

    ‘’So, every registered voter must go through the biometric and the facial, and we jokingly say that the only way the two processes can fail, particularly the facial, is when the voter forgets his or her face at home on election day. The system of using the BVAS for the conduct of elections has come to stay. There’s no going back.”

    He also disclosed that the Permanent Voters’ Cards  (PVCs) of those that registered late this year would be ready by November, stating that 50 per cent of them had already been printed.

    “Nigerians have been asking the Commission; when you finish registration and clean-up of the data, what about our Permanent Voters’ Cards? This will be available for new registrants by next month – November.  We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available.

    “We have already printed over 50 per cent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet. As we clean the data, we also print the cards. Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election. We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit.”

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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