By Angela Atabo
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be transparent in the use of card readers for the governorship and state assembly elections.
The coalition of 70 civil society organisations gave the advice in its preliminary statement on the March 9 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections presented by Mr Clement Nwankwo, the Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Nwankwo said that given the many concerns raised regarding the use of card readers in the Feb. 23 elections, INEC should immediately and publicly release the data captured by the machines.
The data to be made public, according to the coalition, should include the number of partial and full accreditation across the 36 states and the FCT.
According to him, doing so will show the process to be more transparent and will boost public confidence in the electoral process as well.
On behalf of the Situation Room, Nwankwo welcomed INEC’s insistence that no election would hold without the device.
He urged the electoral umpire to follow through with that commitment.
“We call on INEC to ensure effective and uncompromising use of Permanent Voter Cards and Smart Card Readers for the elections,’’ the convener said.
He expressed concern over alleged partisanship of security agencies during the elections and urged relevant authorities to address the issue.
“Situation Room notes the worrying trend of increased and excessive involvement of the military and security officials in elections in Nigeria.
“These concerns have mounted following from the Feb. 23 elections; so Situation Room would like to restate the provisions of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act.
“This states that the `deployment of Nigerian Armed forces for elections shall be at the request of INEC and only for the purpose of distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials’.
“ Situation Room calls on the Armed Forces to restrict themselves to these responsibilities as defined by INEC and the electoral law,’’ Nwankwo said.
He also urged INEC to ensure that the collation of results was effective, transparent, and accessible to all stakeholders.
He maintained that it was important for INEC to clarify to voters the criteria for vote cancellations bearing in mind the high number of cancelled votes.