INEC to use card readers for Benue South rerun despite Supreme Court ruling

FILE PHOTO: David Mark, voting at the recent elections.
FILE PHOTO: David Mark, voting at the recent elections.

Ahead of Saturday’s Benue South senatorial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission has assured of its readiness to conduct a credible poll.

The electoral body also said electronic accreditation with permanent voter cards and card reader machines would be used for the election despite recent Supreme Court’s verdicts against the machines.

The court had this week explained that it upheld the governorship elections in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States because the use of card readers for accreditation for those polls, was illegal.

The Benue election, a straight fight between former Senate President, David Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party and former students’ leader, Daniel Onjeh, who is contesting on the platform of All Progressives Congress, is a rerun following the annulment of the March 28, 2015 election by the Court of Appeal.

INEC had declared Mr. Mark winner before the cancellation.

Speaking on Friday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Istifanus Dafwang, said INEC was very prepared for the election.

“We are very prepared,” he said. “Ballot papers and result sheets which are sensitive materials came in on Tuesday.
“We moved them to Oturkpo which is the zonal headquarters for Benue South on Thursday.”

Across the nine local government areas which comprises Benue South, there are 546,054 registered voters, Mr. Dafwang disclosed.

He further explained that INEC usually provides ballot papers equivalent to the total number of registered voters plus extra five per cent.

“Therefore, we have about 600, 000 ballot papers,” he said.

He said the sensitive materials had been distributed to the nine Electoral Officers, for distribution to the Supervisory Presiding Officers, SPOs.

The SPOs, who are in charge of wards will distribute the materials to Presiding Officers who will take the materials to the polling units, he explained.

Further to the goal of ensuring the credibility of the election, he said INEC would use its staff as SPOs, different from previous practice.

“This way, it will be easy to control and pin them down if they are our staff,” he said.

Also, he said all EOs were changed “last minute” so that those that had been in place for long would not be compromised.

Security Of The Election

While assuring electoral officers and voters of security, he disclosed that the Commissioner of Police for Benue State, had deployed 6,000 officers for the election.

Each polling unit will have three security details, and 10 armoured tanks with fully armed soldiers will be deployed at the collation centre, he disclosed.

Following report of Fulani cattle herders’ menace in Agatu Local Government Area, he stressed that election would only take place in places declared as safe by the police and SSS.

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  • Dazmillion

    I sincerely hope this is the last time we hear about Mr David after his defeat at the polls.

    • Angry Niaja

      Sincerely hope so too.

      • aisha ani

        ditto!

  • Pure Reasoning

    What the “supreme court” is trying to do is to legalize voting fraud. Or what else would they be thinking for trying to tie the hand of a voting system that tries to reduce fraud. Cash and carry justices.

    • e_orpheus

      It beats any form of sound reasoning I tell you. I can’t imagine what the supreme court judges were thinking by not voting to accept that the card reader does a better job of accrediting registered voters than humans, even those with the best of intentions. They’re trying to set us back.

  • Dr Pat KOlawole Awosan

    Recent supreme court ruling against the use of card reader machine to ensure free and fair polls in Nigeria future electoral conduct is very disappointing as supreme court ridden with massive bribes from politicians continue to delivered wrong judgement that does not promote democracy and good free and fair elections in NIgeria.

  • Gabriel Olasebikan

    @ Dr Pat Awosan,@pure_reasoning:disqus,@e_orpheus:disqus,@Dazmillion:disqus,@angryniaja:disqus,what the supreme court judgement did was not to prevent or stop the hosting of credible elections,but to ensure that elections are held within the ambit of the law governing elections. The electoral act and the constitution of the FRN DO NOT have a place for card reader but voters register.This the issue.

  • Du Covenant

    As hopeless as our supreme court is, they did not say the card reader should not be used. INEC introduced the card readers as a means of vetting those in the voters registry so they can vote. The card reader has never been used to vote and We must continue to confirm those eligible to vote with the card reader and eventually make it into law to use it in all elections!. Judge Anthony Pitts who successfully put Ibori behind bars for very good reasons said it all about our Judiciary. Our supreme court judges have no understanding of the modern world, they are stuck in their primitiveness how does anyone expect sound judgement from such people?. I just hope mother nature takes care of them sooner rather than later and lets have progressive minds in that place.

  • Saydo Shan

    Jankara Court. Wuruwuru Court. Jagbajantis Court. Those are names that can be apt to label our “Supreme Court”. They are just Supreme Criminals.

  • smart G

    It baffles me that the simple wisdom of the Supreme Court still eludes many. The card reader must not disenfranchise any eligible voter …period.
    A situation where people programme the card reader to fail as a means of rigging is not acceptable.
    The voters register is Supreme.

  • share Idea

    Nigerian journalist should not be deceiving people by reporting falsehood as truth. Supreme court never said that card reader usage should be stopped or discontinued but should not be a basis for disenfranchising voters that are captured in Voter’s register as the current electoral act did not specify that card reader should be the basis for determining who should vote or the actual number of people that are accredited to vote.

    If people that challenged the election cases in supreme court had presented evidence that actual number of people accredited with card reader and filled incidents forms tallied with numbers ticked on the voter’s register, but INEC wrongly declared someone winner with over inflated votes, I believe supreme court would have arrived at different judgement.

    This case is like when there is conflict between ordinary law of our parliament and Constitution, the section of the Acts of NASS that is inconsistent with constitution remain null and void as constitution is supreme. When there is conflict between what the card reader is saying and voter’s register that is recognized by electoral act, the Voter’s register will win but when both the voter’s register and card reader figures are in sync, no one should be challenging the validity of the card reader. Nigeria we hail thee