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Ignore False Reports, Smart Card Readers Still Much Relevant – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has debunked claims that the Smart Card Reader (SCR), would no longer be used during elections in the country.

The Commission said the clarification became necessary following recent media reports, which had quoted the National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Voter Education, Barr Festus Okoye, as saying the electronic device had outlived its usefulness in the nation’s electoral system.

In a statement signed by the same National Commissioner, Okoye, Thursday evening in Abuja, the Commission said the value of the SCR is still very relevant to the conduct of elections in the country, explaining that use of the device had been included in the laws guiding electoral conducts in the country to protect the process against compromise on abuse.

According to the statement, the SCR was introduced to ascertain the identity of voters and to prevent impersonation and multiple voting, warning anyone, including polling officers who would attempt circumventing the process by abandoning the SCR, would be deemed to have committed a crime, for which he would be prosecuted.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will continue to use and deploy the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in all elections, including the re- run elections in the Kogi West Senatorial District, the Ajaokuta Federal Constituency and Sabuwa State Constituency elections holding on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

“This clarification has become necessary in the light of remarks attributed to the National Commissioner in-charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye Esq, at a program organized by the Situation Room, which gave the impression that Smart Card Readers are no longer useful in the electoral process.

“To the contrary, the National Commissioner spoke in the context of attempts by some political interests to willfully by-pass the Smart Card Reader during elections, to inflate their votes. They do this against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision that the SCR is not to be used exclusively to determine over-voting.

“However, the Commission introduced the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in the electoral process principally as additional confirmatory and authentication tool to determine the authenticity of cards presented by voters and eliminate impersonation, which are serious challenges to the electoral process in Nigeria. The SCR is therefore designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and eliminate multiple voting.

“In accordance with Section 49(1 & 2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and Clause paragraph 10(a) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, a person intending to vote with his voter’s card shall be verified to be the same person on the Register of Voters by use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR).

“Furthermore, by paragraph 10(b) of the said Regulations and Guidelines,

“Any Poll Official who violates the provisions of paragraph 10(a), relating to the use of the Smart Card Reader, shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution”.

“Political Parties, candidates in election, Poll Agents and the electorate are reminded that voter resistance to the use of the Smart Card Reader and obstruction and resistance to the deployment/distribution of electoral materials constitute unlawful truncation of the electoral process and zero votes will be entered for the affected polling unit.

“The Commission will continue to work with the National Assembly and all the critical stakeholders to reduce malpractices in our electoral process, including over voting. As part of this process, strengthening the legal basis of the use of the SCR, as well as other amendments that will advance the electoral process, would be vigorously pursued.

“The Commission will also continue to work with the security agencies and other stakeholders to prevent individuals and/or groups from undermining the use and application of the Smart Card Reader in elections,” the statement said.

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