The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reiterated the use of the smart card readers for the upcoming governorship and House of Assembly elections on Saturday.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Cross River State, Dr. Frankland Briyai told stakeholders at a meeting in Calabar city that polling units where the people refused to allow the use of the smart card readers, were scored zero in the last elections.
Dr Briyai stated “the use of smart card readers is important in the electioneering business these days…In compliance with the technological growth of today and to add credibility to our election process, INEC came up with guidelines one of which is the smart card reader.”
He said that most of the people, who took part in the elections two weeks ago did not understand the importance of the card readers.
“The smart card readers have become a part of elections in this country…Any group or community or polling units or wards that would deliberately disallow the use of the smart card readers will be scored zero.
“I need you stakeholders and the electorate to get this point clearly,” Dr Briyai stated.
He noted that some communities in Boki and Etung Local Government Areas, where people hijacked the materials and disregarded the use of the smart card readers had those votes cancelled.
The commissioner warned politicians and party agents to desist from such acts which would only result to cancellation of the exercise without supplementary elections scheduled for a future date.
Some of the Stakeholders particularly from Boki and Etung areas complained that there were several challenges with the use of the smart card readers.
The people, who appealed to INEC to reconsider the electorate in Boki and Etung, attributed the loss of more than 9,000 votes in the just concluded elections, to machine malfunction and fluctuating internet services in the area.
One prominent complainant was the State Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who is from Biase Local Government Area.
Professor Esu urged INEC to improve on security, train its ad hoc staff on use of the card readers and provide necessary mobility for its technical team in view of the difficult terrain in Cross River.
“Biase had a total of34 polling units that were cancelled and that cost us a lot of votes. These losses were attributed to card readers malfunction, the inability of the presiding officers to operate the machines and the difficult terrain, which made it impossible for the technical team to reach such polling units, ” he explained.
Professor Esu further said; “We need you to train the ad hoc staff to handle the machines properly as some forgot the passwords. Election materials designated for a location should be taken to such areas, we do not need any more mix up this coming Saturday”.
The Deputy Governor urged the electoral umpire and security agencies to adequately tackle challenges experienced during the president and national assembly elections before the next elections.
Stakeholders expressed the hope that the forthcoming elections in Cross River State would remain peaceful.