Saturday, March 28, 2015

Card Reader Failure, Logistics Mar Polls
Nigerian National Mirror

 INEC says voting continues today
OBJ, IBB, Abdulsalami, Gowon, commend voting process
With preponderant hitches marring yesterday’s election exercise despite unprecedented massive turnout by many to vote in the presidential and national assembly election, the expectation is that voting would continue today, even as alterations were made in the voting procedures.

Speaking on this, National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Dr Chris Iyimoga, told Sunday Mirror that voting may continue today where elections could not be concluded as a result of the technical hitches after failure of its Smart Card Readers, SCR, to work according to popular expectation.

Iyimoga, who announced this in Abuja yesterday, lamented that whereas the process had been going well in some places, there were challenges in others, especially with the use of the card readers.

He said accreditation had been consequently slowed in some places while as at 4 p.m., it had not started in others.

According to him, even though the guidelines for the conduct of the elections provide that where card readers failed and cannot be replaced elections in such polling units will be postponed, INEC has decided to make the alterations.

“The scale of the challenge that we have observed has necessitated the reconsideration of the elections guidelines.

“The commission has therefore decided that as part of guidelines for the general elections, the polling units where the card readers have failed to work, the presiding officer shall manually accredit voters by marking the register of voters after being satisfied that the person presenting the permanent voter card is the legitimate owner of the card”, he said.

He said where accreditation was suspended till today; arrangements will be made for voters to exercise their franchise in accordance with both the electoral guidelines and the Electoral Act, as amended.

The commission reassured the voting public that it would thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the failure of the card readers, expressing commitment to the delivery of free, fair and credible elections in spite of these challenges.

INEC took the decision after hours of brainstorming on the way forward with regard to the challenge posed by the non-functionality of many of its card readers

Going by Sunday Mirror’s independent assessment by its team of election observers, yesterday’s exercise was not only peaceful, but also recorded an unprecedented turnout of voters for the ballot. But like a recurring decimal, incidents of glitches in the SCR, late arrival of voting materials and outright absence of INEC officials almost frustrated the exercise.

Evidence of this could be seen in selected towns and states visited by our correspondents.

Former heads of state of the country have expressed satisfaction with the accreditation process of eligible voters across the country, especially with the use of card readers despite complaints of glitches that attended the exercise yesterday.

For former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and Gen. Gowon, the accreditation processes were satisfactory.

Obasanjo, in his reaction shortly after he was accredited to vote around 10.16 a.m. at his Ward 11, Unit 22 of the Olusomi compound polling centre at Oke-Sokori, Abeokuta, commended INEC, stressing that it was not possible to have a perfect situation.

“What I have seen here is satisfactory and I have also received similar views expressed by people I have talked to.

“I do hope that the same peaceful situation that obtains here will prevail in other parts of the country.

“We must allay the fears of those people who thought there will be violence or disturbance regarding this election.

“So I appeal to all Nigerians to maintain the peaceful process that we have had so far,” he said.

Obasanjo urged those who could not obtain their PVCs to be calm, adding that such situation did not confer any right on them to be violent.

He advised them to be patient and hope that the situation would have improved before the April 11 elections.

In their reactions, Generals Babangida and

Abubakar have urged Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully, while voting their leaders and desist from any form of violence.

The two former leaders made the call shortly after undergoing their voting accreditation at their Uphill Water Tank polling unit, Minna, Niger State.

Fielding questions from Journalists, IBB expressed optimism that the election would be credible, honest and transparent and would be generally acceptable by not only the main presidential candidates, but by Nigerians as well.

On the election and his advice for Nigerians, he said, “for the election, so far so good. Nigerians should remain calm, desist from anything that will lead to violence.”

Also, commenting on the speed with which he was accredited with the card reader, General Abubakar said he hoped the machine would work in all other polling units.

Appealing to Nigerians on the need to maintain peace, Abubakar said, “my expectation is, please Nigerians, let us go and vote and maintain peace in this country. Violence does not do anybody any good. We should please help our leaders, the contestants, politicians to help themselves to maintain peace. I hope whatever way the election turns, like the contestants signed in the accord, they would accept the result.”

General Gowon also hailed the election conducted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), describing it as the most peaceful election ever conducted in the history of the country.

It was observed that residents trooped out en masse to participate in the Presidential, Senate and House Representatives election across the territory.

Gowon, while fielding questions from journalists at Karu area of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), FCT said 2015 general elections have been conducted in a free, fair, peaceful and orderly manner.

According him, this election can be made possible by ensuring that Nigerians vote peacefully, creditably and their decision will produce who becomes the next president.

He said: “The election is going on very well in all the polling stations I have visited both in Karu, Nyanya and other places I have visited so far, the exercise has been going on well.

“The credit must also go to the National Youth Service Corps members who hasvemade us proud by sacrificing themselves for this country’s election.

“It is only through a very orderly election conducted according to the rules of the game that the continued peace and unity of the country can be guaranteed,” he said.

Sunday Mirror also observed that some residents in Chibiri ward in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, were made to wait for several hours as the voters card readers failed to capture their Bbiometric

But Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, after accreditation, condemned the timing of adopting the electronic voting by INEC, saying it shouldn’t have been used in the main election.

He pointed out on the need to improve on the electronic process.

“Out of my 10 fingers, only one was caught, but I had to go through all the 10 fingers. I don’t know the value this might have added to this election,” Aliyu said.

He noted that since, he had his PVC with his picture on the papers, he believed with all the agents of all the parties around, the use of the card reader was just an unnecessary issue.


In the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, accreditation for the Presidential and National Assembly elections at some polling units did not start at the scheduled time of 8 a.m. owing to the late arrival of INEC officials and materials.

The card readers were initially programmed to start working as from 8 only.

At New Capital School Polling Unit in Asokoro, for instance, INEC officials did not arrive until about 10: 18 a.m., while accreditation began at about 11 a.m. This was even as some voters had converged on the centre as early as 5 a.m.

Also at Aso Drive Roundabout Polling Unit within the Three Arms Zone, accreditation began at 9:35 a.m. with registered voters showing signs of good conduct.

Electoral officials at the unit however spent some valuable time removing posters of candidates pasted on the walls of the unit.


The former federal capital witnessed a massive turnout of voters from as early as 7 a.m.

But like in Abuja and other parts of the country, the card reader problem continued to hobble voting process, even as clear absence of voting materials and officials worsened the scenario.

In most polling units in Ikeja, capital of Lagos, for instance, there were glaring cases of SCR malfunction.

At the Allen Avenue area of the place, an INEC official said that they have been unable to unlock the SCR because the code that would enable that is with their supervisor who was not within the vicinity.

Similar scenario was observed at Alimosho area of Lagos. This incidence led to a great deal of anxious moments when voters had to lash out at officials. This was however not the general scenario in Lagos.

Reacting to this scenario, a foreign journalist from France who, however, asked not to be mentioned by name said that the situation varies from place to place in Lagos. The journalist stated that there was preponderant ‘challenges, problems with access and delayed voting process’.

According to the journalist, the process could be ‘tiring’ for voters.


Hundreds of youths and party agents held Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC officials in two local government areas, Oru East and Mbaitoli in Imo State hostage over alleged short changing of electoral material including card readers meant for the conduct of the Presidential election.

The youths loyal to one of the political parties laid siege at the council areas blocking the movement of the INEC officials from distributing the materials for the election to commence as schedunled.

At Oru East the youths and party agents including the Commissioner for Primary Education, Mrs. Mma Nzeribe complained that the area had 147 polling units but instead of INEC releasing the same number of card readers to the voting points, they supplied 137 card readers shortchanging the area with 10.

However, the electoral officer in charge of the LGA, Mrs. Paulin Adaku Nwosu explained that the allocation for the area was137 being the actual number of the polling points in the area wondering how the agitating agents and restive youths got their inflated number.

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