Business Journal


INEC to Deploy Biometric Voter Accreditation System for Anambra Election, First in Nigeria


1. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this interactive meeting just a few days to the Anambra State Governorship election. I am glad to note that the Inspector General of Police, as the head of the lead agency for internal security, including the conduct of elections, in Nigeria is here personally. This further underscores the importance of this consultative meeting. Issues relating to election security will be addressed by the Inspector General of Police himself. I am also glad to note the presence of the candidates for the election as well as other distinguished invited guests.

2. The Anambra State Governorship election holds in the next 3 days. As far as INEC is concerned, there are two activities left in our Timetable and Schedule of Activities. The first one is the end of campaign by political parties which is at midnight tomorrow Thursday 4th November 2021. The second is the Election Day which is Saturday 6th November 2021. These two activities will conclude the 14 items listed in the Timetable for the election released by the Commission about 11 months ago on 19th January 2021. INEC has diligently implemented every activity on schedule.

3. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Anambra State has just briefed us on our detailed preparations for the election, including logistics and the recruitment, training and deployment of election duty staff. Non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State. The sensitive materials are secure in the branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) here in Awka. As is always the case on the eve of major elections, INEC will invite political parties, civil society organisations and the media to the CBN tomorrow, Thursday 4th, November 2021 to inspect the sensitive materials and to witness their movement to the various Local Government Areas under security escort. By the same arrangement, the materials will be delivered to the Registration Areas or Wards on Friday 5th November 2021 to facilitate the opening of Polling Units at 8.30am on Election Day i.e. Saturday 6th November 2021.

4. I want to assure all voters in Anambra State that in designing the sensitive materials for the election, the Commission has introduced additional visible and invisible security features, including different colour codes. Materials have also been customized by Local Government Areas and Polling Units. Let me therefore warn those who may attempt to compromise the process that we have put in place sufficient safeguards to detect counterfeits. We are also determined to prosecute perpetrators of electoral malpractice, including any election duty staff found to be complicit. The choice of the next Governor of Anambra State is in the hands of the eligible voters and their will must prevail.

5. On Saturday, 6th November, 2021, Anambra State will make history as the first Governorship election in Nigeria in which the Commission will deploy the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device. This new device replaces the Smart Card Reader (SCR) used in previous elections since 2015. We are satisfied with the pilot deployment of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021. The BVAS has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial authentication of voters. This is to guard against voting by identity theft where one person uses another person’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to vote using the incident form. With this development, the use of the incident form is abolished. No voter without a genuine PVC will vote. No voter who has not been successfully accredited electronically using the BVAS will vote.

6. At the same time, the BVAS is also equipped with a camera. Therefore, it has the capacity to snap Polling Unit level result and upload same to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal so that citizens can view results as election is concluded in each Polling Unit. Therefore, there is no need for the Z-Pad since its functions have been embedded in the BVAS. I am glad to report that all the BVAS required for the election on Saturday have been configured and delivered to Anambra State. Election duty staff have also been trained on the use of the device and we have sufficient technical staff to respond to any glitches that may occur.

7. The Commission is also aware of the concern expressed about the availability of PVCs for new registrants in Anambra State. At the end of the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration. After cleaning up the data, the Commission identified and archived 62,698 multiple registrants. Consequently, the number of valid registrants is 76,104. This figure has been added to 5,674 requests for transfer, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs, bringing the total of valid registrations to 81,774. I am glad to report that the PVCs have been printed and delivered to all the Local Government Areas for collection by voters. We have also contacted the voters by text messages and e-mail addresses and informed them of the exact locations to collect their cards. Through the media, we have also been sensitizing them to the availability of the cards for collection. Many of them have done so already. Let me therefore once again appeal to those that have not done so that their cards are available for collection.

8. Another issue that I need to address is the distribution of voters by polling units in Anambra State. About four weeks ago, the Commission published the register of voters for the election on 7th October 2021 i.e. 30 days to the election as required by law. Each of the 18 political parties was given a soft copy of the register here in Awka. In addition to meeting the requirement of the law, the presentation of the register is significant for another reason. The Anambra Governorship election is the first time that voting is taking place in polling units since the recent successful conversion of voting points arising from the expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria. An additional 1,112 polling units were established in Anambra State in addition to the existing 4,608 locations. This brings the total number of polling units in the State to 5,720. Voters were encouraged to seize the opportunity of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to transfer to the new polling units most convenient for them. Many did not do so. This can be partly attributed to the security situation in the State which has affected the Commission’s pre-election outdoor activities, including voter education and sensitisation. Understandably, the voters have also been cautious.

9. At the same time, the Commission did not use its powers under Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to allot voters to the new polling units to minimise the disruptions that may occur from such a decision in view of the forthcoming Governorship election. Consequently, out of the 5,720 polling units in Anambra State, 86 (1.5%) have no voters. Consequently, the Commission will not be deploying personnel and materials to these polling units. Furthermore, 894 (15.6%) of the polling units have between 1 and 49 voters. Election will hold in these polling units. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that all Polling Units have voters allotted to them ahead of the 2023 General Election.

10. Meanwhile, in our avowed commitment to transparency, the Commission has compiled a comprehensive list of all the Polling Units without voters as well as those having under 50 registered voters. Last week in Abuja, we had a special consultative meeting with the leadership of all political parties in and shared with them copies of the comprehensive locations of these Polling Units. We appealed to them to quickly inform their branches in Anambra State as well as their candidates for the election. I would like to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of political parties, candidates and other stakeholders to this situation. Copies of the list have been distributed to all stakeholders at this meeting. Already, the same document has been uploaded to our website and social media platforms for public information.

11. On this note, let me reassure all stakeholders of the Commission’s commitment to inclusivity. In line with our policy for equal opportunity for all Nigerians to participate, the Commission introduced assistive devices for Persons With Disability (PWDs) during elections. This includes the Braille Ballot Guide and magnifying glasses at polling units for the visually impaired as well as voter education posters for the hearing-impaired. I am glad to report that the Braille Ballot Guide and magnifying glasses will be deployed in the election this Saturday. I wish to reassure you that INEC will remain an equal opportunity Commission for all Nigerians irrespective of disability. As an affirmation of this commitment, data on disability is being collected in the ongoing CVR to enable us to serve this category of voters better.

12. In our continuing determination to protect the integrity of the electoral process, I wish to remind political parties, candidates and their supporters that vote buying is illegal under our laws. I wish to reiterate that the ban on the use of smart phone or other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force. The anti-graft agencies, who are members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), will deploy their personnel to arrest and prosecute violators.

13. Before I conclude, let me extend the Commission’s appreciation to you all for your presence. I thank the religious, traditional and community leaders as well as civil society organisations and the media that have worked tirelessly for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming election. I call on the leaders of political parties and candidates to continue to appeal to your supporters to eschew hate speech or disruptive behaviour before, during and after the election. Doing so will only further compound the current situation and scare voters away from exercising their rights as citizens. Working with the security agencies, we have put so much in place for the successful conduct of this election. Let us by our words and action support the peaceful and credible conclusion of the 2021 Anambra State Governorship Election.

14. I thank you all and may God bless our efforts.

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