We won’t jettison Smart Card Reader, INEC assures Nigerians

• Restates call for Electoral Offences Commission

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, has again assured Nigerians that the electoral body would not jettison the use of the Smart Card Reader in the conduct of elections in the country.

He gave the assurance, on Tuesday, at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners held in Abuja.

Professor Yakubu said rather than discard the SCR, his Commission would rather seek means of improving on the technology to inspire sanity in the electoral process.

He said: “One critical area that the Commission will engage the National Assembly is the status of the Smart Card Reader (SCR). Let me reiterate that the SCR has come to stay. It cannot be jettisoned or abandoned. Rather, the Commission will seek ways by which its utility in elections can be enhanced for the triple objectives of verification of the genuineness of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), confirmation of ownership and fingerprint authentication of voters.

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”The status of the SCR must be provided for and protected by law. Similarly, accreditation data from the SCR should be used to determine over-voting and the margin of lead principle. The judgement of the Supreme Court on the primacy of the voters’ register as the determinant of over-voting in law merely draws attention to the lacuna in the electoral legal framework which must be addressed through an immediate and appropriate amendment to the Electoral Act. The Commission will present a proposal to the National Assembly on this.”

The INEC chairman who further expressed concern over the desperation of politicians to win elections said his Commission was determined to ensure that its proposal for Electoral Offences Commission to try people apprehended for instigating violence and obstructing free election come to fruition.

”The Commission will continue to work with the National Assembly and all stakeholders for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal recommended by the Uwais Committee on electoral reform (2008), the Lemu Committee on post-election violence (2011) and, most recently, the Ken Nnamani Committee on constitutional and electoral reform (2017). At the moment, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders. We have drawn public attention to our constraint in this regard. We have no capacity to arrest offenders and conduct investigation without which successful prosecution is impossible.”

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