TODAY is a special day in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) 2011 polls calender. Going by the election timetable, the electoral umpire will undertake two major tasks today: Publication of official register of voters for election (Section 20 of the Electoral Act) and publication of list of nominated candidates for National Assembly Election (Section 34).
As of press time, it was not clear if the INEC would publish a comprehensive voters’ register as well as federal legislature candidates’ list.
A host of candidates and would-be candidates across the 63 political parties and across the 36 states of the country are locked in legal fisticuffs following the acrimonious primaries and imposition of candidates in the parties. INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega cried out last week that a deluge of court cases from parties and politicians was hampering preparations and might hurt the polls mortally. Thus, at a time the INEC is expected to publish the final list of National Assembly contenders, whatever list the commission publishes today will still be subject to what happens in the law courts.
Relatedly, publication of the comprehensive voters’ register still has a lot of question marks. A flurry of hitches and controversies had attended compilation of the list. There were allegations of multiple registration and listing of foreigners, etc.
The commission had assured that it would detect multiple registrants and resolve other accompanying complaints by using a software – Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Each state of the country was to subject its voters’ register to AFIS and come up with a clean copy that will be published today.
Vanguard checks across the country indicate as of press time that only a few states have completed the exercise. A host of other are still running the software.
Lagos hopes to beat deadline
IN Lagos, the ICT department of the commission was still running the software on Monday. The Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Femi Akinbiyi, however assured that they would meet today’s deadline for publication of the list.
“They are still processing the register at the ICT department. You know we have about 6.2 million voters. They are taking their time to do a good job and we will meet the March 2 deadline,” he said.
On reports that foreigners were registered as voters in Lagos, he said with the help of Immigration officers the INEC had removed names of identified foreigners from the register. “Where they registered foreigners, the names have been deleted unless the ones we don’t know about. The Immigration people are handling it. We have also deleted the names of identified dead persons,” he added.
Enugu: INEC recovers stolen DDC machines, retrieves more names
FOUR Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines stolen during the recently concluded voter’s registration exercise in Enugu State have been recovered with the data captured at the time of the thefts still intact.
Enugu Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Josiah Uwazuruonye, who disclosed this in a chat with Vanguard in Enugu, said that over 1,315,000 persons were registered as voters in the state even though more names were being retrieved from some of the DDC machines that developed faults during the exercise.
“This figure is still provisional because you know there are some local governments that had problem with their machines, the names of those registered are still being retrieved,” he said.
Asked if any arrest was made on account of fraudulent practices during the exercise, Uwazuruonye said: “I am not aware of any arrest made over fraudulent practices during the voter’s registration exercise except the incidence of stolen DDC machines which we eventually found. The people who stole the machines eventually returned them when they found that they were of no electoral value to them. I had reports of four missing machines. The data in these machines were intact and had been retrieved.”
Uwazuruonye could not give a breakdown of the number of voters registered in each of the 17 local government areas or the three senatorial zones as, according to him, the figures were still being collated and would be published as soon as all the data were retrieved from the faulty machines.
On allegations in some quarters that the exercise was compromised by disreputable politicians who encouraged multiple registrations, the Resident Electoral Commissioner said there was no such report in Enugu State even though he added that the “data aggregation process” that could detect cases of multiple registrations was on course.
“As I am talking to you now data aggregation is being done by our ICT department here. It is not something that is done instalmentally. If it (multiple registrations) is discovered, they are taken and after the aggregation they are sent to Abuja where their server will be able to detect the multiple registrations,” he said.
Invalid, multiple registration dot exercise in Gombe
MANY eligible voters in Gombe State may not vote in April because not all their finger prints were captured during during the voters registration exercise because of the hitches the machines had in the first and second days of the exercise.
Investigations by Vanguard also revealed that there are many cases of multiple registration in the state, which the INEC was still sorting out through AFIS.
Though the cause of this multiple registration was not readily ascertained, it was however learnt that some faceless and corrupt politicians might have aided the vice with an aim rigging the elections.
Gombe INEC Administrative Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Falke Giro, said the body had already run the AFIS on registrations done at the polling units and Registration Areas (Wards) and was running on Local Government Areas at press time.
Originally, Gombe State registered a total of 1,266,993 voters but the number is sure to fall at the completion of the AFIS.
Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Samson Miri, has lamented the inability of the INEC headquarters to fast- track the process by ensuring the speedy installation of the required server meant for the AFIS. This, he said would ensure speedy completion of the process within the stipulated time than the current usage of laptops which he said, slows the pace of the exercise and would take days to complete.
Mr. Miri, who acknowledged many cases of multiple and invalid registration, could not give the actual number of eligible voters as the AFIS was still in progress.
Kwara: Exercise still in progress
INEC Press Secretary in Kwara State Mr Jacob Ayanda said, the commission was still running the software and so could not confirm the number of voters.
“We have commenced the exercise here in Kwara and it is still ongoing. I hope it will end before the time of the election. But the issue is that we cannot confirm the figure of multiple registration until the process ends,” he stated.
Officials work extra hours to clean list in Benue
THE INEC revealed that it registered 2,218,105 at the just concluded voters’ registration exercise in Benue State. The commission however noted that its ICT centre was still sorting out cases of double or multiple registrations with its AFIS.
Public Relations Officer of the Commission, Mr. Linus Ochai stated that the officials manning data centre were working round the clock including weekends to ensure that all cases of fictitious or questionable registrations were properly catalogued.
According to Ochai, “At the moment our ICT officials are still doing the sorting with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and hopefully in a few days time we will come out with the figures”, he added.
Meanwhile, a breakdown of the figures release by the commission as it relates to the three senatorial district of Benue State shows that 602,452 persons were registered in the Benue South Senatorial District otherwise known as ‘Zone C,’ 781,380 persons (Benue North West Senatorial District or ‘Zone B’) and 834,273 voters were listed in Benue North East or ‘Zone A’.
A further break down shows that 1,175,440 males and 1,042,665 females were listed.
…Same for Plateau
The INEC in Plateau State was also still in the process of cleaning o the voters register to eliminate cases of double registration.
Public Affairs Officer of the commission, Mr. Bencyn Ikpe told Vanguard in a chat that the process which is being handled by the ICT Directorate of the commission was nearing completion and the final figure would be made public as soon as it was completed.
Jigawa: AFIS reveals more voters, dead double registration
JIGAWA INEC registered 1,952,387 voters during the nationwide exercise. Head of Public Affairs and Political Parties Monitoring, Alh. Surajo Usman told Vanguard in Dutse that following the verification exercise, the official number of eligible voters in Jigawa State has increased by 77,140 while five eligible voters were said to have lost their lives.
Alhaji Usman who spoke with vanguard on behalf of the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Bagobiri Mafara, said the number of voters increased because all the information in the DDC machines were printed.
Said he: “You know we released 1,875,327 as our official eligible voters based on the number of voters being registered daily in our 287 registration centres in the state, but when we printed out the data from our DDC machines we got 1,952,387 out of which we got information’s that five eligible voters had lost their lives in various parts of the state.”
Malam Usman further explained that the commission detected the differences because of the use of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, adding that so far no case of double registration was discovered.
AFIS still running in Bayelsa
The actual number of eligible voters in Bayelsa State is yet to be determined because INEC was still installing the state sever for the running of the registers on the AFIS which can identify multiple registration.
Though it was gathered that the commission had concluded that exercise at the ward and local government level, a source at the commission told Vanguard that a bigger state sever was being expected to enable it run the already cleared data so as to get the actual number of voters involved in multiple registration across the state.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Engineer Edwin Nwatalari said though a total of 566,195 voters were registered in the state during the voters registration exercise the commission had received over 3,000 complaints from voters over irregularities and anomalies discovered.
On the verification of multiple registration registrations through the Automated Finger Print Identification System, he said the process had been concluded at the ward and local government level, adding that the server for the processing at the state level would soon be ready.
According to him, “we have no complaint about the registration other than spelling error and photographs. We are processing the complaints and it is going through server. At the end of the exercise, these anomalies would be corrected.
He added that Yenagoa local government area topped the voters’ registration list with 151,000, Southern Ijaw had 126,000, Ogbia (72,000), Ekeremor (63,000) and Kolokuma/Opokuma had 25,000 voters.
Delta: 12 arrested as REC vows to fish out voters’ list riggers
FOR allegedly colluding with some unscrupulous INEC officials to facilitate multiple registration during the voter’s registration exercise in Delta State, the REC, State,Dr. Gabriel Ada has vowed to fish out all the perpetrators and make them face the wrath of the law through the aid of AFIS.
Asked how AFIS had worked in Delta State, Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Livy Unuibe said only the REC, who was out of town would speak on the issue.
However, Ada had at an earlier press briefing sometime ago said: “The Commission has noticed from the just concluded voters registration exercise of the deliberate act of multiple registration and registration of minors ostensibly facilitated by some politicians in collusion with some unscrupulous INEC officials.
“The perpetrators of these electoral offences and their cohorts are already being fished out through the Automated Finger Identification System (AFIS) and would soon face the wrath of the law.”
Delta REC further told newsmen then that 12 persons including two staff of INEC including some NYSC members recruited for the exercise had so far been arrested for alleged involvement in double registration of voters
Imo records 11,083 double registrations
Imo State INEC recorded 1,688,793 authentic registered voters during the last registration of voters. The Public Relations Officer of the establishment, Mr. Eugene Chinedu Onyeji, who disclosed this in a telephone interview, also said that there were 11,083 suspected double registrants.
Affirming that INEC used the AFIS effectively during the exercise, he pointed out that without the equipment, they would not have spotted the cases of double registration.
Bakassi council rejects figures
Meanwhile, Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State, Dr. Ekpo-Ekpo Bassey has rejected the figure emanating from the just concluded voters’ registration exercise in the area, stating the announced 5,500 voters was grossly inadequate.
Dr. Bassey said about 95 percent of Bakassi indigenes were left out in the exercise, which he described as ‘’unacceptable to the people.”
He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, failed to make adequate provisions as well as extend the deadline for the conduct of the exercise in spite of the late commencement of the exercise in the council thereby disenfranchising majority of the people.
The Council chairman said: “’INEC knows where Bakassi people are settling following the ICJ (International Court of Justice) judgment. INEC needed to recognize Bakassi here. The ceding, relocation and settlement of Bakassi was known by INEC.
INEC captured our people with old names which are now in Cameroun; they claimed their machines were configured based on those old names, but INEC in connivance with some Bakassi leaders created a new location for the exercise, thereby depriving majority of the indigenes of their rights.”