THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has alleged that its field workers were influenced to manipulate the card readers during the last general election.
And irrespective of the recent Supreme Court judgment on the use of the card reader, INEC has insisted it will use the electronic devise for the March 19, National and State Houses of Assembly rerun polls in Rivers State.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ikoiwak Aniedi, during a meeting with leaders of the various political parties in Port Harcourt yesterday, said the use of the card reader is not at variance with the voter register. Rather, it is supposed to complement the register.
“I discovered that it is not the problem of the card reader. 50% of the problems are caused by those in the field; by those who will not want the card reader to be used and influenced somebody to remove the battery. Immediately you remove the battery, the card reader will revert itself to the day it was manufactured and you cannot use that card reader. So, most of the problems are created in the field by certain persons who believed that when they go there, they will want to distort the issue at hand. But we are going to use the card reader” he said.
Present at the meeting were notable party leaders and contestants, including Rivers PDP chair, Felix Obuah, Senator George Sekibo, Andrew Uchendu and others.
On the postponement of the rerun polls to March 19, the commissioner said everyone was aware that the court had ordered that INEC should conduct election for the three Senatorial; 12 House of Representatives and 22 to the state House of Assembly seats. He stated that the election was initially scheduled for February 6, in line with the order of the court, but was postponed to March 19 because of inadequate preparation on the part of the Commission.
Aniedi said he had heard from some people questioned the validity of the March 19 polls. He argued that the law allows the Commission to postpone an election that has been fixed and that in the eyes of the law, it is assumed that elections held on the day that it was fixed.
He explained that Section 26 of the Electoral Law allows INEC to appoint a date for elections and also gives INEC the power to postpone the election to a date that is convenient for it to hold the elections.