Card reader: INEC douses tension in Pankshin over malfunction

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By Thompson Yamput

#TrackNigeria: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Pankshin Collation Centre in Plateau has doused tension over disagreement with the use of voter register in place of the malfunctioned card reader. 

During last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Benlling ward, the card reader failed to work as expected.

The Collation Officer for Benlling Ward, Mr Pam Philip, explained on Sunday that after the card reader packed up, it was taken to the INEC office in Pankshin Town to be rectified. “When it failed again, it was already 2 p.m,” he said.

Benlling ward has 4768 registered voters and 2110 accredited voters for Presidential and National Assembly elections.

There was mild drama at the Pankshin Collation Centre when election results from Benlling ward was vehemently contested by party agents and INEC officials over the malfunctioned card reader.

Philip stated that: “When we returned to the Benlling ward to continue with our election process, only for the card readers to pack up again and with the pressure on us, we decided to use the voters list to conduct the election.

“In fact, we had no option than to go that way, more so that the card readers packed up around 2 p.m and we didn’t have luxury of time.’’

It was at that level that Dr Elias Leman of University of Jos and the Collation Officer for Pankshin centre asked for INEC officials and observers’ position on the matter.

But one Mrs Joan Arabs, who identified herself as INEC Observer from Abuja, said the commission’s rule is that as long as card reader was not used during the polls, that results could not be accepted.

“To us, such a result is not acceptable to us, but should be discarded or ignored, ’’ she declared.

But such a position did not go down well with party agents, who contested it on the ground that it wasn’t the fault of the electorate, so they should not be disenfranchised over a fault not theirs.

Mr Samuel Bok, the council deputy chairman, who doubled as the All Progressives Congress (APC) agent, raised strong objection over INEC’s position on the matter.

“I think if INEC decides to cancel this result, it would be a gross marginalisation of the people of Benlling, who exercised their civic rights diligently.

“We should not forget that by one vote an election has been won in this country and elsewhere. So, it would be detrimental if the result is not allowed,’’ Bok said.

Mr Samuel Goar, and Mr Stephen Dawat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Party (ADP) respectively, also raised objections to INEC’s decision to cancel the result.

Leman intervened by ordering the result to be kept aside, pending an inquiry by the State INEC on the issue after his report on it.

Nerves were calmed with the decision, while collation had been done for 11 of the 12 wards as at the time of filing this report. (NAN)

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