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We’ll deploy smart card readers for 2019 general elections—INEC chair

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday, assured Nigerians that the smart card readers would be used in the conduct of the 2019 General Elections.

The assurance came amidst controversy over President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign into law the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill transmitted to him for the fourth time.

Speaking at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections in Abuja, Yakubu said the technological device had become an integral part of the country’s electoral process.

‘’The Independent National Electoral Commission will continue to follow its timetable and schedule of activities as well as its strategic plan.

‘’The commission assures the Nigerian people that the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections,” he said.

The INEC chairman, who was represented by National Commissioner Festus Okoye, said the commission had improved on its 2015 experience on the use of smart card readers.

‘’The commission has taken onboard the challenges and glitches faced in the use and deployment of smart card readers in 2015 and has made significant improvements and upgrade to the said smart card readers.

‘’The upgraded smart card readers are faster, more robust and have new features that enable it to store additional data and transmit results,” he said.

Yakubu, who said that the Supreme Court of Nigeria commended the introduction of the smart card reader in the electoral process, stressed that the electoral umpire would not compromise on its use for 2019 elections.

He said the commission had also redesigned the voters register and abolished the use of incident forms.

He called on all Nigerians to collaborate with INEC towards guaranteeing the fairness and freeness of the poll.

The Chairman, House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matters, Rep Aishatu Dukku, said ‘’as INEC takes the lead as the electoral umpire, all hands must be on deck to provide necessary support for the smooth conduct of the election.”

She said Nigerians should desist from the politics of do-or-die affair.

‘’We must, therefore, be watchful and make nothing hinders the smooth conduct of the polls. Politics should not be seen as a do-or-die affair; rather it should be seen as a contest that must produce a winner based on popular vote,” she remarked.

The Convener of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said based on the provision of the law, INEC should ensure that security agencies deployed for the election complied with its instruction.

 ‘’We are asking INEC as we prepare for the election to ensure that its powers as provided under Section 29, Sub-section 2 of the Electoral Act Amendment made in 2015 is used to the utmost,” he said.