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Friday, December 8, 2023

Anambra 2021: Sensitive materials in CBN, Awka – INEC Chairman



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By Favour Goodness

Ahead of Saturday’s Anambra guber electon, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu says all sensitive materials to be used are safely in the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Awka.

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This was against an earlier rumour that the commission planned to store them in Owerri, Imo state, a rumour which had sparked off condemnation.

Yakubu who spoke to candidates of the participating political parties during the stakeholders meeting in Awka on Wednesday said the materials are safe, and that a day to the election, the commission will invite candidates, media, election monitors and other stakeholders from 8 am to witness the deployment of the materials to local government areas.

“The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Anambra State has just briefed us on our detailed preparations for the election, including logistics and the recruitment, training and deployment of election duty staff.

“Non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the 21 Local Government Areas of the state. The sensitive materials are secure in the branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) here in Awka.

“As is always the case on the eve of major elections, INEC will invite political parties, civil society organisations and the media to the CBN on Nov 4 to inspect the sensitive materials and to witness their movement to the various Local Government Areas under security escort.

“By the same arrangement, the materials will be delivered to the Registration Areas or Wards on Nov 5 to facilitate the opening of Polling Units at 8.30am on Election Day i.e. Saturday Nove 6.

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“I want to assure all voters in Anambra state that in designing the sensitive materials for the election, the commission has introduced additional visible and invisible security features, including different colour codes. Materials have also been customized by Local Government Areas and Polling Units.

“Let me therefore warn those who may attempt to compromise the process that we have put in place sufficient safeguards to detect counterfeits.

“We are also determined to prosecute perpetrators of electoral malpractice, including any election duty staff found to be complicit. The choice of the next Governor of Anambra State is in the hands of the eligible voters and their will must prevail,” Yakuba said.

He said that Anambra will be the first state where the BVAS would be deployed for a governorship election.

“On Saturday Nov 6, Anambra state will make history as the first governorship election in Nigeria in which the commission will deploy the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device.

“This new device replaces the Smart Card Reader (SCR) used in previous elections since 2015. We are satisfied with the pilot deployment of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021.

“The BVAS has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial authentication of voters.

“This is to guard against voting by identity theft where one person uses another person’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to vote using the incident form. With this development, the use of the incident form is abolished. No voter without a genuine PVC will vote. No voter who has not been successfully accredited electronically using the BVAS will vote.

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“At the same time, the BVAS is also equipped with a camera. Therefore, it has the capacity to snap Polling Unit level result and upload same to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal so that citizens can view results as election is concluded in each Polling Unit.

“Therefore, there is no need for the Z-Pad since its functions have been embedded in the BVAS. I am glad to report that all the BVAS required for the election on Saturday have been configured and delivered to Anambra State. Election duty staff have also been trained on the use of the device and we have sufficient technical staff to respond to any glitches that may occur,” he affirmed.

The INEC chairman assured that the process will be credible, saying that in his avowed commitment to transparency, the commission has compiled a comprehensive list of all the Polling Units without voters as well as those having under 50 registered voters.

“Last week in Abuja, we had a special consultative meeting with the leadership of all political parties, and shared with them copies of the comprehensive locations of these Polling Units.

“On this note, let me reassure all stakeholders of the Commission’s commitment to inclusivity,” Yakubu said.

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