The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not tolerate voters whose identities fail the electronic authentication of its two-in-one accreditation device in the coming elections.
At its third regular quarterly meeting for the year with political parties in Abuja on Monday, the commission’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the new device called the Z-pad, which has been integrated into the IVED currently used for voter registration, will help tackle the fear of identity theft during elections.
Mr Yakubu said the new device would be deployed in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State.
Before the introduction of the Z-pad, the commission permitted the use of incident form to cover those whose fingerprints are not authenticated by the Smart Card Reader (SCR).
This approach has been judged by many experts to be susceptible to politicians manoeuvring as there have been reports of the use of another person’s PVC to vote during elections.
With the new device, Mr Yakubu declared a “no electronic authentication, no voting” stance before the political parties in attendance.
“The functionality of the Z-pad has now been integrated into the IVED currently used for voter registration, ” he said.
“On Election Day, the same device will be used for the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for fingerprint authentication during accreditation and where it fails for facial authentication.
“We believe that this multi-layer process will eliminate the possibility of voting by identity theft using another person’s PVC. Where the voter fails both the fingerprint and facial authentication, he/she will not be allowed to vote. In other words, no electronic authentication, no voting.
“We are convinced that the new machine is robust enough to further guarantee the credibility of voter authentication and transparent management of results during elections.”
Mr Yakubu said the commission would carry out a pilot exercise using the new device in Delta State during the Isoko South 1 State Assembly constituency bye-election holding on Saturday after which it would be deployed in the November 6 governorship poll in Anambra State.
The INEC chairman also announced the suspension of physical registration of voters in Anambra State, a move he said is in compliance with Section 9(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which mandates 60 days gap interval between such an exercise and an election day.
He said the conflicting orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on intra and inter-party issues have continued to affect the discharge of its duties and innovations.
“I must say that some of the cases are making our work difficult and we have been crying out loud for a long time. In particular, some pre-election litigations relating to the nomination of candidates for elections were not determined until after the elections.
“Consequently, in some instances, political parties were declared winners without candidates to immediately receive the Certificates of Return on account of protracted and conflicting litigations or where Courts rather than votes determine winners of elections.
“This situation is compounded by cases on the leadership of political parties, thereby making the exercise of our regulatory responsibilities difficult. It appears that in a number of electoral cases in Nigeria today, the settled law is now unsettled and the time-honoured principle of Stare decisis does not seem to matter any longer. What is most disconcerting for us is that the more INEC strives to improve the credibility and transparency of our electoral process, the more extraneous obstacles are put in our way through litigations,” Mr Yakubu said.