Jega Defends Use of Card Readers Before Senate

By Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, appeared before the Senate Wednesday to shed light on the electoral body’s level of preparedness for the 2015 election and to defend its intention to use card readers to authenticate the Permanent Card Readers, PVCs, in the coming polls.

Speaking on the level of preparedness, Jega confirmed that the commission had achieved 75.88% of the PVC distribution exercise and expressed confidence that even more PVCs would be distributed within the stipulated timeframe for collection.

He however wondered why the people had to be persuaded to come forward to collect their PVCs, stating that “people should be able to sacrifice a day out of 4 years for our democracy” for PVC collection.

The INEC Chairman also explained why the commission rescheduled the elections originally slated for February 14 and 21 to March 28 and April 11, sauing that the decision was reached after wide reaching consultations had been made over the issue.

“In the series of consultations that we had with stakeholders, the questions constantly posed to them for consideration are; in view of the latest developments, should INEC proceed with the conduct of the general elections as scheduled in spite of the strong advice and, if so, what alternative security arrangements are available to be put in place,” he stated.

According to him, INEC took the advice of the security chiefs and adjusted the schedules of the general elections within the framework of the constitutional provisions.

Jega defended INEC’s use of card readers and PVC’s for the 2015 elections saying this is in accordance with the constitution.

Stating that INEC is empowered by Section 16 subsection 4 to use card readers for the election, the INEC Chairman clarified that the machines are not to be used for voting itself but for accreditation and also added that they would help eliminate electoral fraud.

“We have worked together with all registered political parties and agreed on what to do if the card reader fails or if there is a voter without a finger.



    “In the highly and likely event that a card reader fails, we have enough spares to deploy before the end of accreditation by 1:00pm and then adjust the time to gain for lost time where or if a card reader have failed.

    “If we cannot replace before the end of accreditation, then the election in that particular voting point will be postponed to the following day when a new card reader would be provided for the election,” he explained.

    The INEC chairman also affirmed that the commission had discussed these measures with all registered political parties and had agreed that it was feasible.

    “We have agreed to do this because if you say if a card reader fails then revert to manual, we are worried that everywhere it will revert to manual because there are many people who do not want the card readers to be used,” Jeja observed.



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