March 9 Polls: Use of Smart Card Reader Mandatory, INEC Insists


By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that the use of Smart Card Reader in the Saturday’s Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections is mandatory.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, in a statement Tuesday, said that the clarification became imperative because since the conduct of the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, there had been allegations from certain quarters that INEC was selective in its use of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in the conduct of the election.

The commission noted that these allegations had led to speculations that INEC might be forced to jettison the use of card reader in the March 9 Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections.

Okoye stated, “INEC hereby states categorically that the allegations are absolutely false and the speculations are without any basis whatsoever.

“The use of the Smart Card Readers is not only mandatory but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections. This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas, as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.”

The commission added that to clear any doubt or ambiguity, the deployment and mandatory use of Smart Card Readers in Saturday’s elections would not only be uniform but also universal and the provisions of the regulations and guidelines would be strictly and vigorously enforced, adding that all stakeholders are to note and be guided accordingly.

“The general public and all officials engaged for the elections are hereby informed that the Commission is not reconsidering the use of these Smart Card Readers which has greatly improved the credibility of our elections and instilled a high level of public trust In them,” he said.