2019 Elections Smart Card Reader Brouhaha: The Real Issues They Are Not Telling You

By Ikenga Chronicles December 10, 2018

2019 Elections Smart Card Reader Brouhaha: The Real Issues They Are Not Telling You

— Ikenna Asomba

IT is 68 days to the 2019 General Elections, and barring any last minute National Assembly VETO of President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal of Assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, Nigeria’s Electoral Umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has reportedly said it would NOT use INCIDENCE FORMS to accredit eligible voters in the forthcoming 2019 elections.

Yours Truly, says, this is a welcome development, if eventually, pro-Smart Card Readers (SCRs) lawmakers do not get the needed two-third majority to VETO the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.

Be that as it may, it is laughable that even though President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t cite any Treaty of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) as reasons for refusing presidential assent to the bill, the likes of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Festus Keyamo, et al, are citing an ECOWAS Treaty as an excuse for Buhari’s refusal to assent to an electoral bill that would have given LEGAL TEETH to the mandatory use of Smart Card Readers for the 2019 elections and forthcoming elections in the country.

How can Buhari and his supporters reject a bill aimed at addressing the controversies which trailed the 2015 elections, in the courts of the land, particularly, the place of technology, among other issues as highlighted in my earlier pieces.

THE REAL ISSUES THEY ARE NOT TELLING YOU

  1. In the 2015 Presidential Election, incidence forms were used to accredit citizens whose Permanent Voter’s Cards failed BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION (fingerprints) or PVC AUTHENTIFICATION with INEC SCRs.

A March 2018 report by DeepDrive Intelligence, Nigeria, a non-partisan election think-tank, notes that 21.4million Incidence Forms were used to accredit citizens whose Permanent Voter’s Cards failed BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION (fingerprints) or PVC AUTHENTIFICATION with INEC SCRs.

The 21.4million represents a 68% of all 31.7million citizens accredited via SMRs and Incidence Forms to vote. It means only 10.3million citizens, representing 32% passed the FULL ACCREDITATION with SCRs.

This issue was prevalent in Northern Nigeria:

Kano= 1.35million
Katsina= 1.05million
Kaduna= 800,112
Jigawa= 744,457
Bauchi= 627,048
Sokoto= 588,730
Kebbi= 496,565
Niger= 492,870
Plateau= 482,788.

This is where under-age voters and fake voters go on rampage. This must stop. Incidence Forms must be ABOLISHED up North and down South, come 2019.

For this to happen, INEC must immediately begin SIMULATION EXERCISES, training its Staffs, among other things, to ensure its SMART CARD READERS to be deployed nationwide across over 100,000 Polling Units are in good and working conditions.

Complaints of NO-POWER, CALIBERATION ERRORS, etc, which dogged the 2015 elections and other subsequent polls after, must be worked upon within the next TWO MONTHS.

  1. It must be noted that when a citizen is accredited to vote, the INEC SCR sends the data to INEC’s National Headquarters. That is how INEC knows how many voters were successfully accredited to vote, the Polling Units where due accreditation took place, as well as nipping fraudulent accreditation data from these polling units. E.g., Polling Unit 40, Utako, Abuja cannot have 100 voters in INEC database and a returning officer is presenting in his result sheet 101 accredited voters. Such officer must be made to answer questions and face the long arm of the law if found culpable of electoral malfeasance.

This is what the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 aims to curtail and Buhari and his lap dogs are kicking? Who did this thing to these fellows? Why do they detest progressive innovations?

  1. Fact remains that the Smart Card Reader (SCR) is only used for Accreditation of Eligible Voters as it reads their Finger Prints (Biometric Data) and Permanent Voter’s Cards.
  2. Election rigging will be minimised drastically with the insistence that INEC uses the Smart Card Readers for Accreditation of Voters and not Incidence Forms.
  3. It will prevent those with fake voter’s cards from voting, and all things being equal, the SCRs will not read the fake Voter’s Cards. When this happens, the security agencies should gently ask the citizen to GO HOME. If such citizen refuses, EFFECTING ARRE them won’t be a bad idea.

To forestall too much argument, INEC should mandate one or two of its staff at polling units to help or direct citizens on how to check their VOTERS STATUS through INEC’s VOTER VERIFICATION PLATFORM. See link- http://www.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=2160

On the INEC link provided above, citizens can check their Voter Registration Status to know (if you are an eligible voter and what polling unit you are registered to vote on election day) by using:

VOTER’S IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (VIN)

VIN is a 19 DIGIT NUMBER at the front and back of your PVC.

Note: In boxes provided on the page the link directs you to, you will have to provide your:

State of Registration
Last Name and
Full 19-digit VIN or the last 5 digits of your VIN
Then a Security Check to authenticate that you are not a ROBOT.

OR

DATE OF BIRTH

Note: In boxes provided on the page the link directs you to, you will have to provide your:

State of Registration
Last Name
First Name
Day, Month and Year of Birth
Then a Security Check to authenticate that you are not a ROBOT.

OR

SENDING SMS

You can also check your voter status by sending an SMS with your State, Last name, Voter Identification Number (VIN) to the number below
081-7164-6879.

Format: State, Last name, VIN

Example: Kogi, Solomon, 10877

You should receive a response within 15 minutes.

Please note that:

  • Text messages are charged at the local network rates.

This Verification Exercise is to be done side by side to support the use of SCRs, especially when glitches are experienced on the PVC or SCR.

With this Registration Verification Status, Adamu Ciroma who ought to vote in Polling Unit 40, Utako, Abuja, will not have to insist he must be given an Incidence Form to vote in Polling Unit 45, Jabi, Abuja, owing to glitches or by ommision or commission.

If Adamu Ciroma insists on playing a smart one in Polling Unit 45, Jabi, Abuja, where he is not registered to vote, then, the authorities should treat his excesses within the ambit of the law.

  1. The SCR will stop under-age Voters from voting.
  2. Infact, it will prevent double voting. Adamu Ciroma cannot vote in Polling Unit 40, Utako, Abuja by 10:00am and still move to Polling Unit 45, Jabi, Abuja, by 10:20am to Vote again, as the SCR will read out the Polling Unit where your PVC was registered to vote.
  3. The SCR is bad market for dubious politicians currently cloning PVCs, stealing and buying off PVCs from voters across markets and neighbourhoods.
  4. Since INEC affirmed they have CLEANED UP their voters database of DOUBLE REGISTRATIONS, with the Smart Card Readers, you will realise that the 2019 elections would have lesser successfully accredited voters.

CONCLUSION

Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to give presidential assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which would give LEGAL TEETH to the mandatory use of SCRs for Accreditation of eligible voters, barring any last minute SUCCESSFUL VETO by the joint National Assembly, I call on the Professor Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC to compulsorily mandate his Staff nationwide to REFUSE the use of INCIDENT FORMS across the over 100,000 polling units in Nigeria come 2019.

Let’s see how unpopular candidates will RIG themselves in, at the forthcoming elections.

We are getting there, and Time shall tell…

  • Ikenna Asomba is a journalist and a social commentator.
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