Polls: INEC dismisses alleged plan to shutdown internet

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Contrary to the allegations in some quarters of a plan by the Federal Government to shut down the internet during the 2019 general election so as to facilitate rigging of the elections in its favour, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that there is no truth in such allegation.

The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye who set the records straight during the one day sensitization forum for Journalists in Awka, Anambra State on Friday said the commission had no intention whatsoever of shutting the internet or collaborating with anybody to do.

He added that there was no way the internet or the network would be shut down and INEC would conduct election as according to him, the smart card readers operate with the internet providers.

Hear him,” There is no way the internet will be shut down or the network will be shut down and INEC will conduct election. So, we have no intention whatsoever of shutting the internet or collaborating with anybody to shut down the internet because the smart card readers operate with the internet providers.

“Nobody is shutting down any service because if you shut down the service, we cannot conduct election”.

On cloning of the voters’ cards as being speculated in some quarters, the INEC National Commissioner dismissed the speculations saying that there was no way that could be possible as the smart card readers would only recognized the permanent voter card issued by the commission.

“It will not recognize any other thing because the permanent voter card that you are carrying has security features in it and even has transmitter. That is why some people have problem when they get to the polling unit because somebody would have put the card in his pocket and sat on it and then it will destroy the transmitter. So, when you slug it in, the smart card reader will not recognize it because some of the features have been tampered with.

“So, before you will be allowed to vote, the smart card reader must say this permanent voter card belongs to the Independent National Electoral Commission and was issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission. So, the smart card reader must recognize it first and then the picture and the data and every other information on the permanent voter card must correspond with what you have on the voters’ register. If it does not correspond, you go away.

“However, if the smart card reader has recognized the permanent voter card, your name is on the register and every information on the voters’ register correspond with what you have on your voter’s card but the smart card reader was not able to read your finger, we said they should still allow you to vote but we must recapture your finger on the voters’ register because we have created a column beside your picture where you will put your finger print and also submit your telephone number so that if there is a problem, we can use it for prosecution purposes and that is what we have said.

“And that indeed, when there is this challenge, the party agents will also be consulted, it is not as if they will do it unilaterally, they will first of all be consulted and they will be clarified on what to be done”, he clarified.

On the diversion of materials to different places other than where they were designated to go, he submitted,” I think that is now a thing of the past. Before the materials leave the Central Bank, the materials are numbered and coded. The materials for local governments are colour coded differently and sometimes, we also color code materials going to even a registration area.

“So, you cannot take the materials for Orlu local government to Ohaji-Egbema, it will not work and then we also encourage the political parties, we go through these things with the political parties, they will be there when all these things are being checked so that they will also see what we are doing and they will also check the serial numbers of all the materials that  are going out, they take the serial number of ballot papers, the result sheet, the replacement result sheet and the rest of them.

“So, these things are done transparently and there are in a ward where mistakes can be made. If there is any mistake or problem, we have the capacity to remedy it as quickly as possible. So, we don’t really envisage any problem relating to diversion of materials”.

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