INEC releases guidelines for conduct of 2019 general elections

A ballot box filled with ballot is pictured before being counted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a polling station in Yenagoa, in Nigeria's Bayelsa State, on April 16, 2011, after Nigeria's crucial presidential election and a bid by Africa's most populous country to hold its cleanest polls for head of state since the end of military rule. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday 14th January 2019 released the regulations and guidelines for the conduct of the general elections.

The 33 pages document obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said Smart Card Readers (SCRs) and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) would be used for the forthcoming elections.

It reads, “Voting shall be in accordance with the Continuous Accreditation and Voting System (CAVS) procedures as specified in these Regulations and Guidelines, the Election Manual and any other Guide issued by the Commission.

“No person shall be allowed to vote at any Polling Unit/Voting Point Settlement/Voting Point other than the one at which his/her name appears in the Register of Voters and he/she presents his/her permanent voter’s card to be verified by the Smart Card Reader (SCR), or as otherwise determined by the Commission.”

It added that each voter shall cast his/her vote in person at the Polling Unit/Voting Point Settlement/Voting Point where he/she registered or was assigned, in the manner prescribed by the Commission.

It also stated that separate queue shall be created between men and women, where the culture does not allow the mingling of men and women.

It added that Presiding Officers would also create a separate queue for People Living With Disabilities (PWDs).

According Section 10 (b) of the guidelines, “accreditation and voting shall commence at 8.00am and close at 2:00pm, provided that all voters already on the queue by 2:00pm shall be allowed for accreditation and voting.

“(d) The accreditation process shall comprise reading of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and authentication of the voter’s fingerprint using the SCR; checking of the Register of Voter.”

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Section 11 (v) of the guidelines also requested a voter to remove his/her cell phone or any photographic device before proceeding to voting cubicle.

Also section 11(c) stated that “where a voter’s PVC is read but the name of the voter is not on the Register of Voters, APO II shall refer the voter to the PO or APO (VP) who shall politely request the voter to leave the Polling Unit”.

Section 11(d) also states that: “In the event that the PVC fails to be read by the Smart Card Reader, the APO I shall refer the voter to the PO or APO (VP) who shall politely request the voter to leave the Polling Unit.’’

Subsection (e) added that “where a voter’s PVC is read and the SCR shows the details of another person, rather than the details of the cardholder as printed on the PVC, the APO I shall:

(i) Refer the voter to APO II to confirm that the details of the voter in the Register of Voters correspond to those on the PVC;

“(ii) APO II if satisfied that the holder of the card is on the Register of Voters, shall record the phone number of the voter in the appropriate box on the Register of Voters; and

“(iii) Proceed with the accreditation of the voter.

“(f) In all cases from 11(b) to 11(e), the Presiding Officer shall fill the appropriate forms in the PU booklet and make a report.

“Affected voters in 11(b) and 11(e) qualify to be issued ballot papers after consultation with Polling Agents.”

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Meanwhile, some of the amendments have drawn criticism from some parties under the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and the Inter-party advisory Council (IPAC) who claim there are some clauses which would affect the election negatively.

For instance, they referred to simultaneous accreditation and voting which the commission said was to avoid what happened in 2015, when over 20 million persons accredited in the general election did not come back to vote.

The commission also dismissed fears expressed over the amendments saying they were for the good of all and ”have been used in off-season elections”.

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