2019: Our sensitive, non-sensitive materials, procedures are secured – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured Nigerians that its sensitive and non-sensitive materials, processes and procedures were secured,  as the country prepares for 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja at the commission’s quarterly consultative meeting with Chairmen and other officials of registered political parties

Yakubu assured that the commission had introduced new innovation through the use of technology and electoral process,  has gone ”far ahead mischief makers”.

He said that the commission was aware that as Nigeria approaches the 2019 general elections, there would be a lot of interest in INEC activities for virtuous and malicious reasons.

NAN reports that INEC’s  assurance is coming barely three days after an image of a blank Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was advertised by an offshore Company for purchase in the open market.

Yakubu said that within a few hours, INEC contacted the online platform responsible for the advert which promptly removed it.

“We suspect that many dubious enterprises will keep trying openly and in the dark web.

“We have anticipated these challenges and we are far ahead of the mischief makers.

“Our security source codes are not only robust but continuously enhanced. We wish to reassure Nigerians that our sensitive and non-sensitive materials, processes and procedures are secure.’’

Yakubu also assured that the commission’s electoral process had gone beyond what could be manipulated by anybody including officers of the commission.

He urged Nigerians to stop seeing INEC as a political party or its officials as rival candidates.

“We are not a political party. We have no candidate in any election. We shall continue to maintain our integrity as election managers.

“ I wish to assure you that our electoral processes have gone beyond the capacity of our own officials to manipulate. The procedures are robust.’’

The INEC chairman said the claim that the PVCs were cloned and Smart Card Readers pre-loaded before election was “simply ludicrous.’’

He said that the card readers were only configured to specific polling units 72 hours or less before an election.

“Card reader is usually set to operate only on election day from 8am and is manually shut down for accreditation after the last person on the queue has voted or automatically by 8pm.

“In Ekiti State, where we are deploying the enhanced Smart Card Readers, this process has not even commenced.

“It is impossible to pre-load the Card Readers, let alone do so with cloned PVCs.

“In any case, electoral officials at polling units on election day cross check the voter’s name on the Register of Voters which includes the voter’s photograph.

“The voter must be personally present in order to vote. It cannot be done by proxy or prior to election day.

“Is the Voters’ Register, already given to each of the 35 political parties fielding candidates in the Ekiti Governorship election, also cloned?

“Is the bearer of the cloned card also going to have a cloned face to match the original photograph on the register printed from our database?’’

He appealed to Nigerians to discountenance the unimaginative theory which is similar to the allegation of “scientific rigging” before a previous stand-alone Governorship election.

Yakubu also said denied the accusation that excess result sheets were being printed in order to alter results during collation.

He said that with lessons learnt from every election and the reports, the commission had been introducing new innovations to further protect the integrity of the processes.

He said that after each election the commission had consistently issued copies of the result sheets to agents of political parties, while copy of the result was also being displayed at each polling unit.

“Having found this a useful way of enhancing citizens’ mandate protection we now introduce the EC60E which is a large poster reflecting the result in each polling unit as recorded on the EC8A shared with agents of political parties.

“The poster is pasted at each polling unit immediately after the counting of ballot papers.

“Consequently, citizens now know the outcome of voting in each polling unit and can track the processes of collation leading to the final declaration of results.

“These posters were effectively deployed in all elections since the Anambra State Governorship election in November 2017. We shall deploy them in all forthcoming elections.’’

On Ekiti governorship election Scheduled for July 14, Yakubu said that INEC had successfully implemented 12 out of the 14 activities outlined in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election released in October 2017.

He said that only outstanding activities were last day of campaign and election day scheduled for July 12 and 14 respectively.

“We shall continue to implement all activities on schedule according to our timetable.’’

Yakubu also disclosed that INEC had concluded work on the annual audit of the accounts of political parties for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

He listed the areas of focus to include internal audit, internal control procedures, preparation of annual budgets and the maintenance of relevant books of account, fixed asset and membership register.

“At this meeting, we shall share the findings of the external auditors with you.’’

Yakubu also disclosed that as at July 3, INEC was processing 136 application from associations seeking registration as political parties.

He said that out of the figure, 74 have failed the initial assessment of the suitability of their names and logos while 62 had passed the initial assessment.

“Nine associations have undergone verification of their offices and proposed leadership while 16 are either awaiting verification or yet to supply supporting documents.

“We shall continue to operate within the ambit of the law in the registration of political parties.

Yakubu also speaking on the Continuous Voter Registration said as at June 22, the commission had 9,922,619 fresh registration, 576,346 collected PVCs, 489,354 requests for transfer and 766,435 requests for replacement of PVCsameen.(NAN)

Biola Lawal

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