March 9: INEC Makes Card Reader Mandatory …Says Non Use May Lead To Polls Cancellation …Promises Uniform Timing Of Saturday’s Elections

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Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar (left), with National Chairman, PDP, Uche Secondus (2nd left),Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (right) and a member of the party, during the expanded national caucus meeting in Abuja, last Monday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission has warned that the refusal of electoral officers to use Smart Card Readers during the March 9 elections might lead to voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas.
INEC also described as “absolutely false and baseless” allegations that it was selective in the use of Smart Card Readers in its conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections.
According to INEC, the allegations have led to speculations that it might be forced to discontinue the use of SCRs in the March 9, 2019 governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections.
The Commission specifically said it was “not reconsidering the use of these Smart Card Readers which has greatly improved the credibility of our elections and instilled a high level of public trust in them.”
INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, said the use of the Smart Card Readers was mandatory, as refusal to use the device attracts possible prosecution of erring officials.
Okoye said, “Since the conduct of the February 23 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, there have been allegations from certain quarters that the Independent National Electoral Commission was selective in its use of Smart Card Readers in its conduct of the electrons.
“These allegations have led to speculations that INEC may be forced to jettison their use in the March 9, 2019 governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections.
“INEC hereby states categorically that the allegations are absolutely false and the speculations are without any basis whatsoever.
“The use of the Smart Card Readers is not only mandatory, but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas, as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.
“The general public and all officials engaged for the elections are hereby informed that the Commission is not reconsidering the use of these Smart Card Readers which has greatly improved the credibility of our elections and instilled a high level of public trust in them.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given assurance that there would be uniform timing in the commencement of Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly elections nationwide.
Mr Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner in-charge of Enugu/Anambra/Benue States, gave the assurance yesterday in Enugu.
Okoye, who spoke to newsmen on the preparedness of the commission for the polls, also said that there would be full deployment of the smart card readers nationwide.
He said that the commission was ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections, adding that it had fine-tuned all the loose-ends encountered during the Presidential and National Assembly polls.
He said: “This time around, we want to ensure that each polling unit in the federation starts the process at 8 a.m. dot on the day of the elections.
“So we want to make sure that all our ad-hoc staff and materials got to the polling units before 7.30 a.m. And the usage of the smart card readers will be universal in all the polling units.
“Any polling unit where the people or political thugs did not allow the presiding officer to use the smart card reader will get zero vote.”
Okoye advised presiding officers to remain calm in the face of any threats from any quarters at the polling units but score that polling unit zero vote at the collation centre.