The Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) has accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River State, Dr. Okey Ezeani, of a plot to subvert the use of card readers for the accreditation of voters during the conduct of the general election in the state.
In making the accusation, the IPAC raised the alarm that the REC had commenced moves to introduce the use of Electronic Voters Register (EVR), where card readers fail, for accreditation during the elections.
The Chairman of IPAC in the state, Mr. Goddie Akpama, who addressed journalists on the issue in Calabar yesterday, said move by the REC to use the EVR contravenes the position of the national secretariat of the INEC on the use of PVCs and card reader for accreditation before voting.
Akpama said: “I decided to speak with you newsmen today, because I want to tell Cross Riverians on how far we have gone in monitoring the affairs of INEC leadership. You will agree with me that recently the chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega was invited by the National Assembly to tell them how prepared his commission is for the forthcoming elections and Jega made it very clear on various issues that concern the elections.
“But my interest on this is that the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Cross River; in the lectures we have attended and in the papers for the training of ad hoc staff, is doing a different thing from what the INEC national has put on record. I can say that Jega made it very clear that accreditation will be done by card reader and if the card reader fails at any point between 8am and 1pm, they will go for another and shift the time for the accreditation to 2pm. “But if the card reader fails totally, then the elections will be shifted. At no time did Jega say that the use of EVR which is Electronic Voters Register will be an alternative to the card reader, but in the Cross River, the training for the ad hoc staff is being done in two phases, by the card reader and by the EVR.”
The IPAC chairman observed that the use of EVR would not only cause confusion at the polling units , but will open the space for massive rigging thereby compromising the entire elections in the state.
“That is the issue of concern because using the register is going to give room for terrible rigging. You tell us we should use EVR where the card reader does not work and then if you go to network area, you should reconcile. So, if you move to a place like Belekete where there is no network to Obudu where there is network, anything can happen in between those places. There is no time Jega mentioned they should use card reader instead of EVR.
“The processes of accreditation should be put in place for the election to be free and fair. The law of Nigeria does not allow for electronic voting, but the law does not talk about accreditation or how it should be done.
“But Jega has put in place an accreditation process which the National Assembly has agreed with; that we should do elections through the card reader process of accreditation. But that is not what is going on in the state. We will resist the use of the EVR in the state.
“I am not saying I am suspecting any political party of foul play, but it is a concern that they let the people have a right for once to vote. If any political party wins election let it be the people’s choice. We are here to correct these whole lapses.
“The introduction of the EVR would cause problems and the essence of the card reader would be defeated.”
Reacting to the allegation raised by the IPAC, the state REC said: “We are not training any person on the use of EVR. What we are doing is to train people on the use of card readers and that is what we will do for the election. We do not have any other training for any group of people.”
Ezeani said only card reader and nothing else will be used for accreditation voters during the polls.