Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Aniedi Ikoiwak, has said that despite the various Supreme Court judgments that tend to downplay the use of Card Readers the Commission will still use them for March 19 rerun election in the state.
The state REC disclosed this while addressing party leaders and others at its office on Tuesday, February 16.
Ikoiwak stated “This election would be done with the full complement of the card reader. That is the position of the constitution. It is not at variance with the register (voter); it is supposed to complement the register. It was not supposed to be an instrument that should be discarded.”
He further explained that the Commission would train those who will use the card reader in the field.
“Let me say it here, I discovered that it is not the problem of the card reader. Fifty percent of the problem are caused by those in the field; by those who will not want the card reader to be used and influenced somebody to remove the battery.
Immediately you remove the battery, the card reader will revert itself to the day it was manufactured and you cannot use that card reader. So, most of the problems are created in the field by certain persons who believed that when they go there, they will want to distort the issue at hand. But we are going to use the card reader.”
Ikoiwak urged politicians for cooperation during the election.
“We need the cooperation of all the political parties. If we cooperate and allow the electorate to decide on who they want to elect, we will not have issues. But where we think we are the people to decide on who, I think that is where we are going to have issues.
“So I want to appeal to all of us that we allow the electorate to decide on who they want,” he said.
On the issue concerning the date of election exceeding the time stipulated by the Appeal Court, Ikoiwak said INEC has not fallen foul of the law because the Commission has powers to postpone election if there are no funds, lack of logistics etc.
He said the election was scheduled for February 6, in line with the order of the court. It was postponed to March 19 because of inadequate preparation, logistic problems in the face of the aforementioned problems the election was moved to March 19.
“The law allows the commission to postpone an election that has been fixed. In the eyes of the law, it is assumed that that election held on the day that it was fixed. Section 26 of the Electoral Law allows INEC to appoint a date for elections and also gives INEC the power to postpone the election to a date that is convenient for it to hold the elections. So, what we are doing is postponing the elections from February 6 to March 19.”
February 6 was the actual day that was fixed to meet up with the directives of the court of 60 days and 90 days, respectively.
He said the commission has to source for money because it is not an election that was prepared for.
It therefore means that the commission needs to source for money; the provide other logistics, including printing of ballot papers and other materials.
“The commission has come up with customized papers. So, in this election, the commission can not now say, because it is an election that was ordered by the court, that the standard that had been set should not be carried out,” he said.
Present at the meeting were notable party leaders and contestants, including Rivers PDP chair, Felix Obuah, Senator George Sekibo, Andrew Uchendu and others.