Lagos, Nigeria – Sixteen of the 20 electoral equipment stolen by armed gunmen at Nigeria’s main gateway Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos Monday have been recovered, the local press reported Friday. The stealing of the Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines imported by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the country’s voter registration exercise 15-29 January 2011 has raised fears that next year’s polls may not be free and fair.
The speculation is that the machines were hijacked by unscrupulous politicians who want to use them to carry out illegal voter registration, with the aim of rigging the polls.
The stolen machines were part of the 6,000 brought into the country by a local firm contracted by INEC to import them.
However, INEC has moved quickly to douse fears over the forthcoming polls.
‘There are adequate safety features to forestall any nefarious use of the stolen items; as such, the integrity of the electoral processes would not be compromised,â€ INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu said in a statement.
â€œThe Commission urges all eligible Nigerians to turn out for the planned voter registration in January, and to work with INEC for the attainment of free, fair and credible elections in 2011,â€ he added.
The private Guardian newspaper reported that the Presidency Thursday summoned the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, and Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN), Richard Aisuebeogun, over the security situation at the Airport, where the DDC machines were stolen.