The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said hoodlums forcibly snatched about 14,000 Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) from officials of the commission during the collection exercise in Rivers State.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mrs. Gesila Khan, made the disclosure while speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt on Friday.
She said some of the cards were stolen from local government collection centres where the PVCs were deposited at the close of the collection exercise to enable the rightful owners pick them up at their own time before the elections.
Khan also said over 50,000 PVCs would be distributed to their owners before the general election, adding that more than 80 per cent of the registered voters in the state have collected their PVCs.
She stated that her office received 2,990,056 PVCs and distributed 1,869,379.
The resident electoral commissioner, who expressed dismay at the action of the hoodlums, expressed regret that Rivers State recorded one of the highest cases of stolen PVCs in the country.
Her words: “I am appealing to Rivers people because we have lost a lot of cards. We have lost more than 14,000 PVCs and it is one of the highest figures in the federation.
“All the cards that are being snatched are useless and meaningless because we are going to use a new system called card readers. Your card readers are just like ATM cards. You take it there and they slot it into the card reader to confirm if it is yours before you are allowed to vote.
“So, if you go there with another person’s voter’s card, it is meaningless. So, I am advising those of you with other peoples’ cards to return them to the local government offices so that the rightful owners can collect them so that they can participate in the general election”.
"Polling officer will, on the presentation of the PVC by an electorate, slot the card into the card reader to confirm if it belongs to you. The next stage is the confirmation of your finger prints by the card reader before you are allowed to vote. If you go to the polling booth with someone else’s card, you would not be able to vote because each card is unique and can only be authenticated by the real owner. The PVC’s are meaningless to those who have stolen them”.
Mrs. Khan further emphasised: “The PVCs are beyond registration; the cards are beyond voting. People now use these cards in the banks as a means of identifying themselves. All those who snatched these cards should please take them to the designated collection centres so that we can give them to the rightful owners so that the rightful owners can use them during the elections to perform their legitimate civic duties”.
Khan further warned politicians that it would be doubly difficult for them to rig the forthcoming election either through ballot box snatching, ballot box stuffing or the writing of bloated election results in hotel rooms or the homes of influential politicians.
She explained that ballot papers and result sheets for each of the 23 local government areas in the state would be coded and had also been printed in colours that could be traced to each local government. Mrs. Khan assured that the 2015 election would be peaceful because of the cooperation among INEC, police and other security agencies in the state.