By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday warned that any community that refuses to use the smart card readers during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly polls will be doing so at their own risk.
INEC insisted that the smart card readers are integral part of the electoral process and that it is mandatory for it to be used during the election.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Niger State, Prof. Sam Egwu, told newsmen in Minna on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s polls that the commission discovered that in some parts of the state during the presidential and National Assembly elections voters refused to use the smart card readers.
“I am aware we had challenges with the card readers in some areas. There was popular pressure to abandon the smart card readers. Let me warn that failure to use the card readers, the consequences will be very grave.
“We will put zero for any polling unit where the card readers are not used,” Egwu said.
He also said that there was no link between the networks of the telecommunications service providers and smart card readers, insisting that card readers operate independently of telephone networks.
Egwu said the commission is ready for the conduct of the governorship and House of Assembly elections, pointing out that: “All the sensitive materials are here in Niger State. We have scrutinised them; we have batched them local government by local government; we don’t have any shortage.”
He added that the materials would be sorted out polling unit by polling unit and despatched on Friday.
The REC said 31 political parties are fielding candidates for the governorship election in the state, while 371 candidates from 27 political parties would justle for the 27 assembly seats in the state.
He was of the view that Saturday’s election “will be more competitive, because all politics are local, elections of March 9 are local people who did not vote the last time will want to vote this time around”.
He however called on voters to conduct themselves in orderly manner during and after the election so that they would not run foul of the law.