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Register twice, go to jail, Jega warns

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega yesterday accused politicians of encouraging multiple and underage registration in the ongoing voters’ registration exercise, even as he admitted that the take-off of the exercise did not meet the expectations of the commission.
In the same vein, the INEC chairman warned those who have been engaging in multiple registration that they would be fished out and sent to jail.

He blamed the initial hiccups on shortage of fund available to the commission in training of its ad-hoc staff deployed to man the registration units. The commission was given the sum of N89.7 billion to register eligible voters for the 2011 elections.

Reviewing the seven-day old exercise before the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Jega said information at his disposal confirmed that politicians were moving eligible voters from one registration unit to another to register. Through the collaborative efforts of security agents and INEC staff, Jega said six people had so far been arrested and vowed that they would be prosecuted to show the determination of the commission to stop electoral fraud.

Besides, he told the committee that with the software installed in the Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines, anybody who registered twice irrespective of location would be detected and be made to face the law. He also informed the committee that there were other challenges confronting the exercise but that with the quick response to the challenges, the deadline set to register Nigerians would be met.
However, he hinted that the exercise might be extended to accommodate people who might miss the registration because of the late commencement of the exercise in some states of the Federation due to the late arrival of DDC machines.

Jega said the last batch of the DDC machines from one of the contractors would arrive the country on Saturday morning, while some areas could not be accessed as at yesterday because of difficult terrain.
Specifically, he disclosed that a US-based company, Avante, which was to supply 22,000 machines defaulted in meeting the deadline, but that the company had pledged to complete its supply latest by Saturday morning.

On arrival, the INEC boss said the machines would be configured and sent to the needy states for registration of voters, while assuring that henceforth, the exercise would be conducted flawlessly as all the problems militating against the exercise had been taken care of. Admitting to deploying poorly trained personnel, Jega said “There are challenges and some of these challenges have to do with the level of training of the people who are handling the machines. We wish we had more money for more days of training including hands on the machines.

“I know when I say more money every Nigerian will laugh because people say that we have already been given too much money but frankly we could have done with more time of training because the more people are trained, then the better they are.” Jega advised Nigerians who had registered during the problematic registration when people registered without having their ten finger prints taken, to go back to the voting centres and re-register, as their incomplete registration would be deleted from the machine, depriving them the opportunity to vote during the elections.

He, however, warned people interested in double registration to stay away, promising that they would be caught and sent to jail. “One of the major challenges we have on the field is that our officers, when confronted with long queues took decisions to register without fingerprints and that is wrong.
“We have devised guidelines now and have informed all our officials on the field, whoever has been registered has to go back and re-register again and all the 10 fingers must be registered.
“It’s unfortunate that they have done this and are causing additional inconveniences to the people but what is worth doing is worth doing well.

“The reason for capturing 10 fingers is to make it near impossible for double registration and as I have said, capturing ten fingers as we have planned it, will ensure only the possibility of duplication in five million voters. “ So we have to go back to that, otherwise the moment we register people without finger print, creates additional problem of checking double registration.

-Sun

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Posted by on Jan 20 2011. Filed under Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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