The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says politicians buying Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to manipulate the 2023 general elections are engaging in futile efforts.
According to INEC, the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVAS), the technology that will be used for the accreditation and authentication of voters come 2023, will reject biometric data of persons who are not original owners of the traded PVCs.
“In terms of any politician, bypassing the BVAS, I want to tell you that that will not happen, that is an impossibility,” INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye said on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
Two non-governmental organisations, the Northern Elders Forum and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had alleged that politicians are buying PVCs from poor voters to manipulate the next elections.
However, Okoye on Sunday, described as “an impossibility”, the plan by the desperate politicians who are already harvesting PVCs to rig the next election.
He insisted that it is an electoral offence to be found with a PVC that doesn’t belong to one, noting that security agencies have the responsibility to go after such individuals and prosecute them.
“Some politicians are very optimistic, they normally plan for the rainy day; they are still thinking that there is a possibility that they can beat the BVAS that we are going to use for voter accreditation and authentication but their exercise will be an exercise in futility.
“Anybody who is purchasing a permanent voters card is just engaging in an exercise in futility. The only thing any person can do is to make sure the voter does not vote on election day but for you to come to the polling unit on election day with voter’s card belonging to someone else, and you attempt to vote with it, that is an impossibility, the BVAS will not capture your fingerprint,” Okoye said.
The INEC commissioner also said polling units have been removed from shrines, churches, mosques, and homes of powerful politicians to ensure electoral integrity. He tasked voters to support the commission’s efforts through shared responsibility and mandate protection to ensure free and fair elections in 2023.
“We removed polling units from the palaces of traditional rulers, we removed polling units that are near the homes of politicians, we removed polling units that are in shrines, we also removed polling units from places we consider not conducive for electoral business,” he said.
There have been reports of late that politicians who are against the BVAS attempt to use the court of law to stop INEC from deploying BVAS and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in next year’s elections but the electoral body has consistently restated its commitment and determination to deploy the system for the 2023 general elections.
BVAS is stipulated in the Electoral Act of 2022 and it is a technological system that allows the accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading of results amongst others.
It has been described by many as an upgrade of the smartcard reader used in the last general elections which achieved some results in the country’s electoral process.
Okoye, on Sunday, said the electoral management body has already made provision for the use of the BVAS in the over 176,000 polling units in the country. However, he said INEC has also made provision for spare BVAS machines in the case of failed machines.
“For each electoral ward, we are going to have some spare BVAS to be deployed speedily if there is any issue or any challenge in any of our polling units. We have also trained technical support staff that can also intervene if there any challenge with the BVAS
“But if there is sustained malfunction of the BVAS up to the time of the closing of the poll, the Electoral Act demands that we should undermine voting in that particular polling unit and repeat voting within 24 hours,” Okoye stated. – Channels.