…INEC to track materials’ deployment digitally, Electoral materials to arrive LGAs Thursday
…Explains why z-pad won’t be used for facial authentication,
…Polling Unit results to be uploaded online
…Be prepared for the consequences of your actions, IGP warns politicians,
…Orders arrest of VIP Police Escorts on election day,
…Stakeholders meet, pledge peaceful conduct.
By Omeiza Ajayi & Ozioruva Aliu
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced its decision to use digital tools to track deployment of electoral materials to avoid diversion ahead of Saturday’s Governorship election in Edo State.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this, yesterday at the INEC stakeholders meeting held at Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre, Benin.
Yakubu’s disclosure came as the Inspector General of Police IGP, Mohammed Adamu announced the deployment of 31, 000 policemen for the election, saying the police had to increase its deployment due to the wave of violence associated with electioneering campaigns in the state.
Adamu warmed politicians to play by the rules, vowing that those who go against the law should be prepared to face the consequences.
“Aside the optimal deployment of our intelligence assets to pro-actively frustrate any threat to the elections, we shall be deploying a total of 31,000 Police personnel for the purpose of protecting the personnel and assets of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electorate, and residents of Edo State before, during and immediately after the elections.
“As part of our election security plans, all the three senatorial districts, 18 local government areas, 192 wards and 2,627 polling units across the state have been appropriately mapped out, and adequate deployments will be made to ensure security”, he said.
The IGP also ordered the arrest of any policeman whether in uniform or mufti, who on election day accompanies politicians to polling units or give them cover to move about.
Earlier, Yakubu said all the non-sensitive electoral materials had arrived the state and that the sensitive ones-the ballot papers and result sheets- would arrive the state before the end of the day.
“We have delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election. Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to all polling units on Election Day. The Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the election holding this weekend. We are also working to track the movement of these materials online so that there will not be diversion. We are tracking the vehicles”, he said.
He added that INEC is determined to deepen the deployment of technology such that even in future elections, party agents would be registered online.
Suspends Z-pad usage for voters authentication
The INEC boss, however, explained the position of the Commission on its recent innovation, Z-pad, which he said would not be used for facial authentication as it requires more field tests.
The pad would nonetheless be used to snap and send polling unit results to the INEC election results viewing portal.
Yakubu said: “To underscore our commitment to a credible and transparent electoral process in Nigeria, the Commission is determined to deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It is for this reason that the Commission recently built portals for the nomination of candidates by political parties as well as the accreditation of election observers and the media. We have used the portals seamlessly in preparing for the Edo Governorship election. The same applies to the Ondo Governorship election. We will deploy the same platforms for all subsequent elections, including the forthcoming bye-elections in 15 constituencies across 11 states of the Federation scheduled for 31st October 2020. We are working to ensure that in future elections, even the accreditation of polling agents nominated by political parties will also be done online.
“Perhaps the most critical of the recent innovations introduced by the Commission is the use of a tablet now popularly called the z-pad. It is a new innovation introduced to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation using facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader.
‘’Secondly, the camera on the tablet will be used to take a picture of the polling unit result (EC8A) and to upload same on a dedicated portal (INEC RESULT VIEWING – IReV). This will enable all those interested in viewing the results to do so in real time. The Commission deployed the z-pad in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in Nasarawa State on 8th August 2020. It was a test-run intended to assess the functionality of the technology before its deployment in major elections. While the capture and upload of polling unit level result went on smoothly, the facial authentication did not. Without going into the technical details, let me say that the Commission encountered hardware and software issues which needed to be fixed.
“Our ICT Department worked on the new device and made a presentation to the Commission which decided that the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election. Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, the Edo Governorship election involves 2,627 polling units. The Commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the bye-elections scheduled for 31st October 2020 and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections. The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.
“However, the uploading of polling unit level results in the election on Saturday will proceed as planned. The z-pads have already been delivered, configured and ad hoc staff trained on its deployment on Election Day. Enough chargers have been provided to address the power problem identified during the Nasarawa test-run. We envisage that there will be a high traffic of persons interested in viewing the results in real time. Consequently, the Commission has dynamically expanded the result viewing portal to accommodate almost two million viewers at the same time without clogging. To view the uploaded results, please visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account.
Smart card reader for voter verification
“I must quickly add that the Smart Card Readers will be used for voter verification and authentication. This is a mandatory requirement and where it is deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines”.
Yakubu disclosed that as in previous elections, the Commission is deploying magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided.
“Earlier, the Commission translated and published its policy of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Voters’ Code of Conduct into braille in order to ensure greater awareness and effective participation of all citizens in the electoral process irrespective of disability.
“The Commission is also aware of the concern expressed in some quarters about the neutrality of our staff, in particular the ad hoc staff engaged for election duty. We have heard allegations that some ad hoc staff were recruited in such a manner as to compromise the election. In response, the Commission deployed two National Commissioners who reviewed the process for strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment. I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted. The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration”, he stated.
Orbih kicks against deployment of Kano REC
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Chief Dan Orbih faulted INEC for deploying the Kano Resident Electoral Commissioner as one of the officials to supervise the election, saying it does not bode well for the system as the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is the chief campaigner for the APC.
Yakubu explained that RECs are not deployed on partisan considerations, saying even the REC of Rivers is part of INEC officials supervising the Edo election and that the Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike is also the lead campaigner for the PDP.
While he promised to deliver a free, fair and credible election, Yakubu said “the Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results”.
“The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results”, he added.
The Oba of Benin who sent representatives, sued for peace, saying the people do not want bloodshed.
He specifically tasked the leaders of the PDP and APC on the need to maintain the peace, and assured electoral officials and security operatives of the support of the palace.
Director General of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC, Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim who was represented, also called on stakeholders to protect Corps members deployed as ad-hoc personnel, saying it is always a traumatic experience taking the bodies of slain Corps members to their distraught parents.