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By Desmond Ukandu (Politics Editor)

Ahead of the Anambra gubernatorial poll, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has unveiled new measures to eliminate irregularities in voting which often impugn the credibility of the election process.

INEC announced on Monday in Abuja, that the commission will deploy finger/facial capturing to authenticate/identify voters on Saturday, November 6, the day of the election.

According to the electoral umpire, a Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for fingerprint authentication during accreditation will be applied, especially where it fails for facial authentication.

INEC also said such a multi-layer process will stamp out the ignoble practices of voting with another person’s PVC. The Commission explained that such voter will not be allowed to vote if he or she fails both the fingerprint and facial authentication.

INEC specifically warned that any voter who has not be electronically authenticated will not be allowed to vote. It said the capturing machines have already been technically designed to ensure proper voter authentication and transparency in the management of election results during the exercise.

INEC however stated that it intends to carry out a "pilot exercise using the new device in Delta State during the Isoko South 1 State Assembly constituency bye-election holding this weekend (Saturday 11th September 2021)".

It further said, “The BVAS will now perform the functions of both the SCR and Z-Pad in the bye-election. Thereafter, it will be deployed in the Anambra Governorship election in November. There will be a presentation of the new device and a practical demonstration of its functions to Chairmen and leaders of political parties at this meeting.”

On the pre-election court cases and lingering litigations as manifested in discordant judicial orders from Courts with coordinate jurisdictions, INEC stated that this development is worrisome.

The Commission lamented that some pre-election cases regarding nomination for elections were not resolved until after the polls, a situation it observed, has been a source of frustration and discouragement for candidates and the political parties.

According to the Commission, it is “..aware that some of the cases are still in court and therefore subjudice. I must say that some of the decided cases are making our work difficult and we have been crying out loud for a long time.

“Consequently, in some instances, political parties were declared winners without candidates to immediately receive the Certificates of Return on account of protracted and conflicting litigations or where courts rather than votes determine winners of elections.

“Thus the situation is compounded by cases on the leadership of political parties, thereby making the exercise of our regulatory responsibilities difficult. It appears that in a number of electoral cases in Nigeria today, the settled law is now unsettled and the time-honored principle of stare decisis does not seem to matter any longer.

“What is most disconcerting for us is that the more INEC strives to improve the credibility and transparency of our electoral process, the more extraneous obstacles are put in our way through litigations.

“By the same token, as Chairmen and leaders of political parties, you have a role to play. I wish to remind you that INEC is both an umpire and a regulator. The Commission is an umpire in dealing even-handedly with political parties collectively, but when it comes to the management of intra-party affairs, it is a regulator. We will play our role decisively.” NNL.

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