15 parties threaten polls boycott over card readers …want INEC to drop use of device
Citing illegality bordering on constitutional violation, 15 political parties and five presidential candidates participating in the forthcoming elections, yesterday, opposed the proposed use of card readers in accrediting voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the elections. The aggrieved parties and candidates, said the use of the electronic devices would not only be against the 1999 Constitution but also the 2010 Electoral Act (As amended) which proscribed electronic voting in the country. They, therefore, threatened not to participate in the elections if the INEC insists on using card readers, saying they “observed some obvious but dangerous developments in the proposed use of card readers” by the commission for the conduct of the elections.
At a press conference in Abuja, the parties and candidates, speaking through spokesperson and Acting National Chairman of Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD, Dr Onwubuya Breakforth, said “these important observation, if not well considered by the commission, has the propensity to derail the 2015 polls.” Reading a prepared text to newsmen, Dr Breakforth, said: “The card reader is a device which is susceptible to manipulations to favour particular candidates and in the process, disenfranchise many registered Nigerian voters or potential election winners.”
He added: “The concept of using card readers for these coming elections as being planned by INEC, has a lot of implications which may negatively impact on the conduct of a credible, free and fair elections on March 28 and April 11.
“The first drawback is that this device is relatively a new technology that has not been tested or tried in a kind of mock election or previous formal elections prior to this time. This would have enabled the nation and the electoral umpire itself, to properly ascertain its workability and efficiency in the conduct of the real general elections.
“The decision by INEC to commence the test-run of the use of Card Readers in some of select states across the country on Saturday March 7, 2015, just less than three weeks to the commencement of the re-scheduled election, would not provide the commission enough time to rectify whatever anomaly that would likely arise from that exercise. He noted that if the card reader should develop some technical problems, there was a possibility that the consequences of such development would affect about forty fifty percent of the polling booths nationwide.
“Because of the tendency of the card reader device to develop some technical fault any time during the voters accreditation process, that was the reason why all the political parties agreed with INEC recently, that the election should be postponed in polling booths where a substantial number of card reader defaults were recorded because it would disrupt the entire election process. That goes to show that the card reader cannot be fully trusted for the conduct of the election.
“The case of Senators Chris Ngige and Enyinnaya Abaribe, whose bonafide voters cards were not captured by the card reader device was a clear case of the technical fault which the card reader is susceptible to,”he added. He stressed that the card reader was already programmed for particular polling booths and the device was supposed to be used for that particular polling unit which it was programmed, regretting that so far, that has not been the case.”
Three of the political parties leaders who signed the statement on behalf of the parties include, the national chairman of the MEGA Progressive Peoples Party, MPPP, Prince Dare Falade, presidential candidate, Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN, Prince Dr Kelvin Chinedu Opumu Alagoa, Alliance for Democracy, AD, Dr. Rafiu Salau