The All Progressives Congress (APC) has tasked INEC to immediately commence the process that will lead to the use of the e-card reader for the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun States, if indeed the electoral body is committed to ensuring that the polls are free, fair and transparent.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said using the simple but fool proof device for the Ekiti gubernatorial polls next month and that of Osun in August will make it possible for INEC to fine-tune its deployment on a nationwide scale for the 2015 general elections.
It said INEC must stop trying to justify why it cannot use the e-card reader to verify the permanent voter cards which the commission has spent time and money to develop and given to all registered voters, in an effort to ensure the transparency and credibility of its elections.
”Contrary to what INEC has said, the e-card reader is very adaptable, and its application is not subject to any environmental peculiarity once the basics of operations are met. It is therefore surprising to read INEC’s claim that the sensitivity of the elections in Ekiti and Osun will not recommend the use of the card reader,” APC said.
The party said the most compelling reason for the use of e-card reader by INEC is that it will eliminate the rigging of elections through the use of stolen or purchased voter cards, and ensure that only those with authentic voter cards are allowed to cast their votes on election day.
”Impersonation, multiple voting and endless altercations and associated tension will be eliminated at the voting centres with the use of e-card reader and not by any other means.Also, the e-card reader will ensure the automatic recording of all accredited voters with verified permanent voter’s cards in such a way that does not lend itself to manipulation, thus preventing the falsification of results at the collation centres,” it said..
APC said since the physical examinations of the permanent voter cards alone cannot reveal or decode the content of the chips embedded in the card containing the biometric data of each potential voter, there is no other fool-proof means to authenticate the cards beyond using e-card reader.
Saying e-card reader is not rocket science, the party said all the device does is to ensure that the bearer is the authentic owner of the permanent voter card with him/her by matching the bio-metric data, particularly the thumb print, with that of the bearer.
”This is what millions of Nigerians do daily when they use ATMs nationwide. What is therefore the issue in deploying this veritable nemesis of election riggers and manipulators for the Ekiti and Osun elections, and subsequently for next year’s general elections?” it queried.
APC said going by the total number of polling units in both states, the e-card readers required for the elections in the two states total 3,500, with sufficient provision made for redundancy to cater for malfunctioning, since Ekiti has 2,195 polling units and Osun has 3,100 polling units and the elections are billed to hold on different dates.
”To test-run the device before the actual elections and further strengthen the credibility of the electoral process, e-card readers should be immediately deployed to the 16 Local Government offices of INEC in Ekiti and 31 local government offices of INEC in Osun (allowing for the Area office in Modakeke) for the verification of those coming to collect their permanent voter cards from those centres,” the party said.
It said if INEC is truly committed to a transparent, credible, free, fair and efficient electoral process in the forthcoming governorship polls in Ekiti and Osun States, then it must use the e- card readers in all the polling units in the two states.
”If INEC is not paying lip service to ensuring the integrity of its elections; if INEC does not want to become a collaborator in election manipulation, which has been the hallmark of recent elections under its watch; if INEC wants Nigeria to join the comity of nations where elections are being held without rigging or rancour, then it must pitch its tent with a technology that has been proven to be affordable, dependable and formidable in rooting out election cheats and manipulators,” APC said