Electoral body rules out fingerprint proof for elections (Yeah, that will be a bloody waste of time!! The lawyers can cross check that if litigation arises)
The commission ruled out checking finger prints as part of election verification The commission ruled out checking finger prints as part of election verification
The Independent National Electoral Commission is to use the 1993-method of accreditation for elections where all voters will be verified first, openly counted, before balloting from a queue. The commission, however, ruled out the possibility of checking finger prints as part of the verification before voting.
The process, which departs from past elections since 1999, is only inches away from the popular Option A4 used by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida for the 1993 elections, which has been widely adjudged one of the nation's best.
The commission announced yesterday, at a meeting with the 63 political parties, that for the general elections on April 2, April 9, and April 16, voters will for four hours be checked against their particulars obtained during last registration of voters, after which a head-count is taken, and a queue formed, before balloting begins at different polling centres.
Majority of the political parties have welcomed the new plan which they say will help combat rigging with a few parties, led by the ruling People's Democratic Party, condemning it as too rigorous for voters. The United Democratic Party, the Better Nigeria Progressive Party, and Social Democratic Mega Party also opposed the new option.
But the electoral body said the option is not reversible now, as it races towards the commencement of the general elections starting first with the National Assembly elections holding April 2.
"We have used the other method severally in this country and it has failed us. Our previous experimentation failed us," said Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the commission at the meeting, adding that the new option was applied during the Delta State rerun and the commission received no complaint about the system.
The method differs from the 1999, 2003, and 2007 general elections, where accreditation of voters were done continuously with balloting as prospective voters arrived throughout the duration of the election - a process INEC and many political parties now say fuelled multiple voting, impersonation, and ballot snatching.
According to INEC, voters will be checked between 8am and 12 noon on the day of election, marked with ink, before a queue is formed between 12 noon and 12.30 when voting is expected to begin, INEC said.
Praise for INEC
The commission also presented dummies of the ballot papers and ballot boxes to be used during the elections. The papers are customised to each ward, with party markings reflecting only those contesting the particular election. A twin chamber-cubicle, each side away from the other, would be used for two persons to ballot secretly at a time, the commission said.
To help deal with late arrival of materials, officials, vehicles, and security agents are to camp on the eve of elections at the voting areas.
Police authorities, Mr. Jega said, have also accepted to withdraw police aides from every person, to disallow office holders like governors who move about "monitoring" elections. Also, police officers will wear special tags that will help deal with the trouble of fake policemen. That one no possible now!
The commission's presentation yesterday, which drew rare praise from many of the political parties, marked one of the relatively high points for an electoral accustomed to stormy debates with parties and faced with unabated challenges as the crucial polls draw nearer.
Parties took turns to announce their "appreciation" to the effort of the commission under Mr. Jega, moving away from a trademark tempestuous atmosphere that has characterised meetings between the electoral body and the parties.
The political parties viewed the new option of accreditation as the brainchild of their pressure on the commission to ruthlessly deal with openings that have allowed electoral fraud in the past.
"I would say this is the kind of INEC we have been asking for. The kind of INEC that will listen to our complaints and respond," said Dan Iwanyanwu, the National chairman of the Labour Party.
But the parties pressed further that the verification of voters be heightened with the Direct Data Capture machines for finger-print proof amid reports that people have been given money in exchange for their registration cards.
The electoral commission ruled out the use of the DDC machines used during the January registration of voters.
Mr. Jega said the use of any electronic device on the election day, besides the huge logistical challenge involved, opened that commission to the litigations from people who may view that as a breach of the constitution which abhors electronic voting.
"I regret to say that we have gone beyond this. For the purpose of April's elections, we will not use DDCMs for accreditation."
No condition is permanent. Love life, live life and enjoy life. Do not allow your background to keep your back on the ground.
So why did Jega waste hundreds of billions on DDC machines...?
He did not waste the money!! The ground has already been prepared for a successful challenge of election results in court.
If Ekiti and Osun States were able to convince the courts of multiple voting using finger prints experts without the aid of data captured by the DDC, you can imagine how much more successful they will be when they have ten finger prints of voters captured in a data base somewhere.
I believe we are moving closer to free and fair elections even though we are not there yet. Even in advanced democracies, nobody bothers about the finger prints of voters unless where there are disputes.