The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the emphasis on the use of permanent votersâ€™ cards for the 2015 election and beyond was seen as being the first step towards achieving free, fair and credible elections in the country.
The electoral body yesterday explained that the insistence for the use of the said permanent votersâ€™ cards for the conduct of the 2015 general election and subsequent ones in the country was meant to checkmate fraudulent acts by politicians.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Gabriel Ada, who spoke with THISDAY at the end of an Inter-Agency Consultation Committee meeting on election security, stressed that INEC would be very strict in the enforcement of the use of the permanent votersâ€™ cards in the conduct of the forthcoming elections in the country.
According to him, the much-talked about permanent votersâ€™ cards have all the futures to check cheating, multiple voting and other sharp malpractices that were allegedly reported in the conduct of previous elections.
He said the distribution of the permanent votersâ€™ cards would be carried out in the state soon, indicating that INEC in the state was only waiting for directive from the national headquarters of the commission.
â€œI am confirming that we are going to use the permanent votersâ€™ cards for the conduct of future elections in the country. Before that, we are going to distribute the permanent votersâ€™ cards to the electorate. We are hopeful to do it soon; but I canâ€™t give you a date because we have to wait for the national.
â€œHowever, we are also aware that some people may not have their permanent votersâ€™ cards because they may have done double registrations before. So automatically their names may not be there,â€ he said.
Ada said people that were not registered in 2011 when the general registration was done and those who were now up to 18 years would be registered during the continuous votersâ€™
registration exercise to take place at the end of the distribution of the permanent votersâ€™ cards
â€œIf people feel they want to use the opportunity to come and register twice, automatically the system will still dictate and remove you.
â€œPeople that do not have the permanent votersâ€™ cards distributed to them are those that may have committed one offence or the other. So, we already have their name there or deleted,â€ he said.
â€œAgain for you to collect your permanent votersâ€™card, you need to bring your temporary votersâ€™ card for us to identify you and exchange with the permanent votersâ€™ card,â€ the electoral commissioner said warning that the temporary voters card will not be used in the 2015 elections.
Ada who said, INEC is more determined to ensure free, fair and credible elections in the country urged politicians to educate their members on the need to participate in the collection of the permanent votersâ€™ card and make any observation on the card.
â€œThe activities we are carrying out will ensure that we have credible and fair election; but it is also left for the people to make use of all what we are presenting to them. If they donâ€™t come out to collect their permanent voterâ€™s card and donâ€™t use it on the election or allow people to use their card to vote for them, it will not be possible because we are going to use the card reader at the polling unit that will authenticate every owner of a voters cardâ€, he added
Speaking on the state of political parties in the state, the INEC commissioner said the commission was working on the authenticity of most of the political parties in the state especially with the merger of some of the political parties.