No voting in Kaduna without card reader— INEC

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Alhaji Kaugama Abdullahi, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kaduna State has reiterated that there would be no voting in Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly elections without the use of the smart card reader.

Addressing a joint news conference with heads of security agencies in the state a few hours before the March 9 polls open, Abdullahi said: “Once there is no card reader, there will be no voting, and if voting is enforced, it would not be recorded,“ Abdullahi said, in line with the guideline issued by the central Independent National Electoral Commission.

He said that once the card reader failed during the elections, there would be backup and technical experts would be on hand to rectify the gadget. Abdullahi said that the Commission had addressed most lapses experienced in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

He said voting materials had been dispatched and were already being distributed from the 225 voting areas (Wards) to 8012 polling units in the 23 local government areas of the state.

“Late arrival of materials will be history in Kaduna State, as 80 per cent of voting materials have been moved to registration areas already are as speak being distributed to the polling units. I am assuring that by 7:30 am tomorrow, materials will arrive at polling units and voting will commence by 8:00 am, according to INEC rule. Our ad-hoc staff are also ready, and they are people of integrity. “So the issues of late arrival of materials, card readers’ failure have been taken care of, and such will not be repeated at this Saturday’s polls,“ he said.

In the Feb 23 presidential and national assembly poll, the electorate waited for several hours before the arrival of the materials, a situation that led to the extension of the hours of the election period earlier scheduled between 8:00 am to 2:00 Pm to allow those on cue to vote.

Also fielding questions from journalists, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdurrahman said no local vigilante groups would be allowed to participate in the election exercise in the state. The commissioner said that personnel from the various security agencies including the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration Service, the Civil Defence Corp, and the Federal Road Safety Corps had been deployed to take charge of the process. He said that the measure was taken to ensure a peaceful conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly Poll in the state.

“After the last election, we sat and reviewed the security deployment and we deployed more security officials to where we found challenges. Any Security official found attempting to disrupt the election will be arrested and local vigilante groups have been warned to stay off during the elections. We are going to engage in Air surveillance with the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Air Force. All private vehicles on election duty must carry tags as means of identification.

“No food vendors would be allowed because we realized that the presence of such vendors encourages vote trading and leads to eruption of violence in some parts of the country,” he said. The police boss said “the PVC is the visa to move to your voting unit. Only those on essential duty would be allowed to move around. No vigilante group is allowed to take part in the election,” he added.

Some 42 political parties are fielding 436 candidates for the Governorship and State Assembly poll in Kaduna state. 38 candidates including the incumbent, Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai and Alhaji Isah Ashiru of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are running for the governorship seat in the state, while 398 other contestants are vying for the 34 State House of Assembly seats in the state.