The Independent National Electoral Commission has raised the alarm that some politicians have been buying up Permanent Voter Cards or inducing voters financially to collect the Voter Identification Numbers.
The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, raised the alarm on Monday during its quarterly consultative meeting with political parties in Abuja, where he presented the 2019 voter register and electoral guidelines to the parties.
He said, “A new method of vote-buying is being devised. We have received credible information that some partisan actors are now going round buying up PVCs from voters or financially inducing them to collect the VINs on their PVCs.
“In some instances, telephone numbers and details of bank accounts of voters have been collected. By collecting the PVCs, their intention may be to deprive the voters of voting since no one can vote without the PVC. By collecting their phone numbers and bank details, the intention is to induce voters by electronic transfer of funds to their accounts since it will be difficult to buy votes at polling units.
“By collecting the VINs, they may be acting on the mistaken notion that our system can be hacked into and the card readers somehow preloaded ahead of election and compromised. We want to assure Nigerians that we are aware of the new tricks. It is a futile effort; we will work with security agencies to deal with the violators of our electoral laws, including those who may be trying to compromise our staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by the legitimate voters.”
The commission also vowed to keep a close watch on political parties by monitoring their campaign finances.
Yakubu said, “As campaigns are going on nationwide, the commission will keep very close watch on campaign finance. In particular, we shall closely monitor spending by parties and candidates as well as individual and group donations to campaign organisations. We will discharge this regulatory responsibility diligently.
“The commission has designed campaign finance reporting forms to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements by parties. The EC16C for annual finance reporting by parties, the EC16D for income (including contributions and donations) and EC16E on party expenditure are already available on the commission’s website.”
He told political parties there was no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for 2015 General Elections and the 2016 area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, adding that any information to the contrary was utterly baseless and should be disregarded.
The INEC chairman advised leaders of political parties to start compiling lists of party agents for submission not later than 14 days to the election, in line with the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 General Elections.
He noted that the deadline for the presidential and National Assembly elections remained February 1, 2019, while governorship, state assembly and FCT Area Council elections is February 16, 2019.
The INEC chairman stressed that the commission would not allow the collection of PVCs by proxy and advised registered voters to collect their cards personally, without which no person would vote.
He dismissed insinuations that the Smart Card Readers would not be used for the 2019 General Elections for accreditation of voters.
Yakubu said, “On this note, let me re-emphasise the commission’s policy that the Smart Card Readers will be used for the 2019 General Elections for accreditation of voters. For clarity, I wish to stress that the function of the Smart Card Reader during accreditation is to confirm, verify and authenticate the voter.
“First, it shall be used to confirm that the PVC is genuine and issued by INEC. Cloned cards or cards that do not match the codes for a particular polling unit in which the voter is registered will be rejected by card readers. Secondly, card readers shall verify that the voter who presents the PVC is the actual owner of the card by ensuring that the personal details on the card reader are consistent with the manual register for the polling unit.
“Thirdly, the card reader shall be used to authenticate the fingerprint of the voter as an additional confirmatory procedure. If the fingerprint is not authenticated by the card reader but the PVC is confirmed as genuine and the voter’s personal details are consistent with the manual register, he/she shall be allowed to vote.”