Anambra: No electronic authentication, no voting, INEC warns
Written by darling on September 6, 2021
Ahead of the November 6 Governorship Election in Anambra State, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has declared that no one will be allowed to vote except such person has undergone an electronic authentication of his identity using its
Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this Monday in Abuja during the commission’s third quarterly meeting with political parties.
Yakubu again lamented the growing number of conflicting court orders and judgments which are usually procured by politicians seeking to outmaneuver one another.
On the Anambra Governorship Election, Yakubu said the Commission will use the next few weeks to compile the register of voters for claims and objections, clean up the data, print the Permanent Voter Cards PVCs for collection by registrants and compile the register for each of the 5,720 polling units in the State.
“I want to assure every newly registered voter in Anambra State, including those who applied to transfer from within and outside the State or for the replacement of damaged or lost PVCs that their cards will be printed and made available to them for collection before the election. Each political party fielding candidates in the election will be given a copy of the voters’ register on 7th October 2021 as published in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the elections”, he stated.
He said the Commission has also been continuously innovating on how to strengthen the credibility of voter accreditation and result management during elections in Nigeria.
According to him, many stakeholders, including leaders of political parties, had called on the Commission to strengthen the voter accreditation process during elections, especially with reference to the use of incident form where the Smart Card Reader SCR fails to authenticate the fingerprints of a voter.
“Such concern is legitimate given the fact that the SCR successfully verifies any card that belongs to the polling unit for which it is configured irrespective of who presents it. Their apprehension, therefore, is that using the incident form to cover those whose fingerprints are not authenticated by the SCR, a voter may be able to use another person’s PVC to vote during an election.
“To address this concern, the Commission attempted to introduce the facial biometric authentication during accreditation of the voters using the Z-Pad tablet to complement the fingerprint process through the Card Reader before the Edo Governorship election in September 2020. However, the Commission was not entirely satisfied with the pilot held in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election a month earlier in August 2020. We, therefore, suspended the idea to enable us to do some more work. Over the last one year, we reviewed the situation and we think we have found the appropriate technology to address it. The Z-pad was therefore only used to upload Polling Unit results to the IReV portal during elections.
“The functionality of the Z-pad has now been integrated into the IVED currently used for voter registration. 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. Accordingly, the Commission intends to carry out a pilot exercise using the new device in Delta State during the Isoko South 1 State Assembly constituency bye-election holding this weekend (Saturday 11th September 2021). The BVAS will now perform the functions of both the SCR and Z-Pad in the bye-election. Thereafter, it will be deployed in the Anambra Governorship election in November”, he added.
Prof. Yakubu also denounced the usual resort of politicians to obtaining conflicting court orders which he said rubbishes the legal concept of “stare decisis” as what is supposedly settled in law has now become unsettled.
He said; “I cannot conclude my remarks without touching on the issue of litigations, particularly the conflicting orders emanating from Courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“I am aware that some of the cases are still in Court and therefore sub judice. I must say that some of the decided 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.
“However, the Commission appreciates the recent statement by His Lordship the Chief Justice of Nigeria as well as the strongly worded concern by the Nigerian Bar Association. We will work with both the Bar and the Bench to defend the electoral process in the best interest of our democracy.
“By the same token, as Chairmen and leaders of political parties, you have a role to play. I wish to remind you that INEC is both an umpire and a regulator. The Commission is an umpire in dealing even-handedly with political parties collectively, but when it comes to the management of intra-party affairs, it is a regulator. We will play our role decisively”, he added.