Queries anomalies in distribution of PVCs
- Blames INEC for poor voters education
- As APC applies to join in suit seeking use of TVCs
By Henry Umoru & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — DIRECTOR- General,Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, PDPPCO, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to allow the electorate, who participated in the 2011 elections, use their temporary voters’ cards in case they could not get their permanent voters cards.
Why we should use TVCs —Ali
Ali said there is need to allow voters use TVCs against the backdrop that the commission was introducing a new methodology in the entire process.
He said INEC was not prepared for the election, adding that the problems were monumental and would have made the commission fail monumentally.
He said yesterday that the PDP and its Presidential candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, were querying the INEC for the aberration in the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, with Borno State having more than Lagos State.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Ali, who noted that the shift in the dates of the general elections from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11 had saved the INEC from monumental embarrassment, asked the electoral umpire to explain the rational behind insurgency-ravaged Borno State registering more PVC collections than Lagos State that is peaceful and more populous.
Ali spoke as the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) applied to be joined in the suit seeking for temporary voters cards (TVCs) to be used in the 2015 general polls.
He said: “We are querying the INEC for some aberration in the distribution of PVCs. How can Borno State which is under siege register more PVC collections than Lagos State? The INEC might have allowed its distribution of these cards to be tampered with.
“We hope that INEC will now use the extra time it has given itself to perfect its methodology. For example, the card readers need to be tried and tested during training of its operators.
“I gave an interview over two weeks ago and I said the problem we are facing is monumental and INEC may fail monumentally. My suggestion was that if you have your TVC they should allow you to use your TVC. If you voted in 2011 and you have the old voters’ card they should allow you to use it because this is the first time they are introducing this methodology and we have not mastered it.”
Blames INEC for poor voters education
Asked who should be blamed for not educating the electorate on how to use the materials, the PDPPCO leader said the INEC must be blamed for not enlightening the people, especially on the card readers, which usage has not been displayed even to journalists.
He said: “In terms of voters education, INEC should be blamed. There is none of you here that has seen the card reader demonstrated publicly. That is where the problem lies. If you the elite who are covering the election have not seen where they trained their personnel and show you how this thing is going to operate, how do we and other Nigerians know how it is going to operate?
“This is what they should have tried out at local government level in one of the states and know what the problems are. By the way, the battery life of the card reader works for only eight hours. In remote parts where there is no light, by the time people line up, you accredit them and the eight hours is over and people are still on the queue that means you will disenfranchise them.
“These are things that he (Prof. Jega) should have tried out but because they have introduced it and we don’t want to prevent progress, they should have mastered it. You and I still don’t know how it is going to work.”
PDP’ll defeat APC—Ali
Ali, who said that the PDP would have won the polls if the commission had gone ahead with the elections as earlier scheduled, boasted that the party will still defeat the APC anytime.
His words: “PDP is thrown aback by the change in date of election and fully understands the frustration of the opposition. Having worked so hard for the election, travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country including Maiduguri, it was a bit of frustration too as we were looking forward to February 14. We believe that May 29 is sacrosanct and we are keeping our eyes on that date when President Goodluck Jonathan would be sworn in.”
INEC not fully prepared
On the preparedness of INEC for the election, prior to the shift in dates, the former PDP national chairman said: “From all indications, INEC is not fully prepared for the elections. There are issues with the PVCs. Almost 30 million people are yet to get their PVCs despite the fact that the date of distribution was extended. Will it be possible to have a credible election when millions of Nigerians are disenfranchised because of lack of permanent voter’s cards?
“There are also reports that the PVC readers are not fully distributed and tested. How can INEC handle cases of faulty card readers? Do they have a credible Plan B in situations where voters are lined up and the card readers refuse to work?
“Ballot boxes are reportedly inadequate, training of staff for the election had not been concluded and there are other problems facing INEC. Quite clearly the shift in election date is meant to save INEC from monumental embarrassment. I would like to reiterate that the PDP is ready for the election any day.”
On security, Ali said: “Soldiers were mobilized for the election in Edo, Osun and Ekiti states and these elections were adjudged as free and fair by local and foreign observers.
“With the general election, more military personnel are needed to be on ground to forestall any breakdown of law and order as well as prevent political miscreants from tarnishing the electoral process.
“Nigeria in conjunction with sub-regional forces have recorded a tremendous success in the fight against Boko Haram in the recent well-coordinated repel attacks from all flanks around North-East bloc of the country.
“This joint effort started about two weeks ago and has gathered momentum, therefore, aborting this process because officers are needed to monitor the elections would be counter-productive and could be more deadly for the nation, as it may reverse the gains we have made so far.
APC applies to join in suit seeking use of TVCs
Meanwhile, the APC, yesterday, approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, praying to be joined as a co-defendant in a suit seeking for an order compelling the INEC to make use of both the permanent and temporary voters cards for the polls.
The suit was filed before the court by a civil society group under the aegis of Society for Advancement and Protection of Public Rights, SAPPR.
The group is seeking a declaration that by virtue of Sections 77(2) and 117(2) of the Constitution, INEC has no power to deprive any Nigerian who is eligible to vote at the election, the chance to vote on the ground of non possession of the PVC.
It is urging the court to order INEC to allow the use of the temporary voter cards issued legally to Nigerians in 2011 along with the permanent voter cards in order not to disenfranchise over 30 million voters who are yet to get their PVCs.
The plaintiff, through its lawyer, Mr. Eze Anumnu, maintained that the use of both cards would enable all eligible Nigerians to vote in the election and thus make the process more free, fair and credible.
When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, APC, through its team of lawyers comprising 11 Senior Advocates of Nigeria and 13 other lawyers, urged the court to join it as an interested party in the matter.
Addressing the court, lead counsel to the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, insisted that the outcome of the case was capable of affecting its political interest and chances of its candidates contesting in the forthcoming general elections.
APC told the court that it had long started and has continued to sensitize its members and the general public on the modalities for the conduct of the coming elections and in particular on the use of PVCs being distributed to prospective voters by INEC.
It further submitted that changing the information of INEC on the use of PVC now would adversely affect its position and preparations for the elections.
Besides, Fagbemi told the court that the APC intends to oppose all reliefs being sought by the plaintiff.
He maintained that the substantive matter could not be effectively determined without the joinder of the applicant and other participating political parties in the forthcoming general elections, whose interests he said would be adversely affected.
After listening to the applicant, Justice Abdul Kafarati adjourned to February 23 to hear the joinder motion.