AHEAD of the 2015 general elections, Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, raised the alarm over attempts by some persons to clone the Permanent Voters Card, PVC, currently being issued by the electoral body.
Professor Jega made the disclosure while addressing civil society organisations at an interactive session organised by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, in Abuja yesterday.
He said the commission became very vigilant after it was revealed that “some unscrupulous elements” wanted to use the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti State to test-run the cloned cards, which he said could pass as real ones.
He explained that it was in view of the development that INEC, on the election day, ensured that the register of distribution which he said contained names of all the electorate that were duly issued with the PVCs in Ekiti State, were produced at all the polling centres in the state.
… in Ekiti
The INEC boss, however, regretted that despite the measures that were taken by the commission, it was still discovered that some people appeared at the polling centres with valid voter’s card even though their names were not in the register.
He said: “Though we had persistently warned that nobody should collect the PVC by proxy, some people did. They had the card but their names were not in the collection register.
“When the information came to us at the headquarters, we asked that they should be allowed to vote since it was actually proved that we actually had their data in our system.
“Our reason for producing the registers was to strengthen our proof against anyone that brought a cloned card.”
However, Jega insisted that there was enough time for people to collect their PVCs before the 2015 general election, adding “nevertheless, there will be no collection by proxy because that is the easiest way to commit electoral fraud.”
Besides, the INEC boss, dismissed allegation that so many people were disenfranchised in Ekiti State.
He said: “We cannot be accused of disenfranchising anyone. For days we brought out the voter’s cards for collection. Some refused to collect their own.
“We later took the cards to our state office where we asked people to come and collect them; it stayed there for over two months, yet some still refused to collect theirs. How then can we be accused of disenfranchising anyone? Or were they expecting us to start issuing out cards on the election day?”
He said the commission is currently investigating how some people were able to collect their PVC by proxy, even as he insisted that the voters register that was used in the conduct of the Ekiti State election was not only credible but “was much more better that what we have used in previous elections.
“What helped us in Ekiti was early preparation. At least three weeks before the election, all the sensitive materials were distributed.
“Funding requirements were provided in Ekiti State at least 30 days before the election. Even printing of the ballot papers were done earlier than in previous elections.
“Early preparation helps a lot in any election and we are prepared to do even better in Osun State. The other issue is the training of ad hoc staff and sensitisation of the electorate.”
He said INEC trained the ad hoc staff it used in Ekiti State for seven weeks, using the Community Development programme of National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, adding that they were all compelled to sleep at the Super Residential Centres that were established by INEC, a night before the election.
He said: “It helped us in the early deployment of all the materials. In fact, 95 percent of the polling units opened by 8a.m. on the election day. The other five percent experienced delay on account of lack of security.
“Certainly, we did much better in Ekiti than in the other election.”