I can’t guarantee elections will hold March 28. Jega tells Senators

I can’t guarantee
elections will hold March 28. Jega tells Senators

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The Chairman of the Independent
National Electoral Commission,
INEC, Attahiru Jega, has told
Nigerian federal lawmakers he
could not guarantee the 2015
general elections will hold on
rescheduled dates in March and
April.
At a meeting with Senators
Wednesday, Mr. Jega said he
could not commit himself to the
“sanctity” of March 28 and April
11 – dates for the rescheduled
Nigeria’s general elections.
He said the electoral commission
could not guarantee aspects of
the poll that are beyond its
control.
Mr. Jega met with the lawmakers
to review the decision to
postpone the polls from
February.
Under the Nigerian law, a further
six-week extension of the
elections is possible, a prospect
opposed by many Nigerians, the
main opposition All Progressives
Congress, APC, and the
international community.
INEC had said the postponement
were necessary for security
reasons, as military chiefs had
warned against going on with the
vote to allow it focus on fighting
the terror group, Boko Haram.
But the APC said the delay was
instigated by President Goodluck
Jonathan, to save him and ruling
party from losing the elections to
the APC candidate, Muhammadu
Buhari.
Since announcing the new dates
nearly two weeks ago, the
commission has declined to
clearly confirm that there will be
no further delay beyond March 28
and April 11, for presidential,
National Assembly, governorship
and state assembly polls.
Responding to a question by
George Akume, Senate Minority
Leader, on the sanctity of the
new dates, on Wednesday, Mr.
Jega said it was difficult for him
to respond, saying he could only
give assurances over aspects
within the control of INEC.
“That’s a very difficult question
to answer. I have said not everything that has to
do with the conduct of successful election is
within the control of INEC,” Mr. Jega said.
Use of card readers
Mr. Jega also said the commission will go
forward with its plan to deploy card readers for
the elections.
There have been some concerns, mainly from
the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, about
the plan as Nigerian law prohibits electronic
voting.
On Wednesday, while PDP Senators opposed the
plan, their APC counterparts welcomed it.
Heineken Lokpobri, a PDP Senator from Bayelsa
State and Odion Ugbesa, from Edo State, argued
against the use of card readers for the elections,
saying it would be illegal.
In his response, Mr. Jega said card readers
would only be used for accreditation not actual
voting.
He said there was no law forbidding the use of
electronic devices for accreditation.
“Card reader is used for accreditation not
voting. Voting his defined as dropping of ballot
paper into ballot box. Accreditation is essential
for integrity of the election,” he said.
“Nothing in the constitution says we should not
use electronic device in the process of
accreditation. Anybody that is not satisfied can
go to court. We have solid ground on that,” he
said.
He added that the card readers would curb
electoral malpractices, as cloned cards would be
detected.
Mr. Jega said INEC will perform a mock test on
the card readers.
He said some tests had already been taken in the
United States, and will now be tested in the six
geopolitical zones.
“The card reader has passed in all the 13 test
categories conducted in terms of its durability
and versatility,” he said.
Mr. Jega said the postponement of the general
elections will enable INEC to have a flawless,
near-perfect elections.
INEC National Commissioners are to visit state
offices to conduct evaluation and
comprehensively determine the level of
preparation in the election.
He said after the visit, the commission will meet
with the heads of departments and directorates
of units to conduct a comprehensive
assessment, to figure out additional things to be
done before March 28.
Mr Jega said a meeting with the inter-agency
committee on security will hold a meeting to
discuss security on the Election Day.

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