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Published On: Thu, Mar 12th, 2015

Protesters Shut Down INEC Office over Card Reader

Atahiru Jega

Atahiru Jega

LAGOS MARCH 12TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Thousands of protesting youths yesterday prevented staff and visitors from gaining access to the headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja.
The youths, who barricaded the entrance road to the commission, also compelled other users of the road to seek alternative routes.
The youths under the aegis of Middle Belt Concerned Youths had staged the protest at the commission’s headquarters to register their disapproval against the use of PVCs and the Card Readers for the elections.
However, the youths who stormed INEC’s vicinity at about 10.14am were prevented by armed policemen and other security agents who cordoned off the INEC office.
Although the security personnel prevented the protesters from accessing the entrance of INEC they were received by an Assistant Director Security, Victor Egbo, who received their protest letter with a promise to deliver same to the commission chairman.

Displaying placards with inscriptions such as “Jega, why the underage registration of voters in northern Nigeria? Jega, resign now, it seems you are not getting it right, Jega is test-running the future of Nigerians with the election, Voting is our legitimate right and we must vote,” Chanting ‘we are Nigerians’, among other protest songs, the youths rebuffed attempts by the security department of INEC to address them, insisting that they would only speak with Jega himself.
President of the group, Yunusa Yusuf said, “judging from what transpired during the exercise, it has been proven that batteries of the Card Readers do not function for more than three hours. The question therefore is: what happens if the battery fails during the election proper, especially in the rural areas?”
He further alleged that the APC and INEC plan to rig the forthcoming elections, saying that the claims of APC supporters in Kano and Lagos states that the machines are working are mere cover-up.
According to him, “for the simple fact that APC and INEC are on the same page on the use of PVCs and Card Readers speaks volumes about their plan to rig the forthcoming polls, which all right-thinking and well-meaning Nigerians must resist with vigour.
“If the All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters in Kano and Lagos states claimed that the electronic machines did not fail during the mock exercise in their states, they are simply playing to the gallery; it is a cover-up and a far cry from the ugly reality starring everybody in the face.”
The youth leader further argued that “in as much as we appreciate the steadfastness and enormous innovations introduced by INEC to bequeath free and fair elections to the nation, it is still the contention of majority of Nigerians that such efforts must not be sacrificed on the altar of a fool-hardy insistence of proceeding with the use of PVCs, despite the glaring imperfections inherent in them.
Insisting on using them for the elections will only end up disenfranchising a huge segment of Nigeria’s voting population.
“We frowned at this orchestrated plot to disenfranchise a high number of eligible Nigerian voters by INEC as epitomised in its determination to go ahead with the use of PVCs and Card Readers regardless of the genuine concerns expressed by relevant stakeholders in the polity, a development that is likely to compromise the integrity of the elections.
“Unlike the TVCs, which are easy to obtain and use during elections, PVCs are a bit technically-complicated for an average rural dweller.
Instead of this straight-jacketed insistence of using PVCs and Card Readers, INEC should rather be thinking of fashioning out alternative measures of ensuring the success of the elections that will not only be acceptable to Nigerians, but also meet international standards”.

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