The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Tuesday rejected the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to bar voters from using smart phones and cameras in polling booths during elections, even as the electoral body clarified that its directive only barred the use of the devices in the polling booth and not around the polling area.
National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke during a meeting with stakeholders from Bayelsa East senatorial district in Yenagoa, the state capital, claimed that the ban was part of INEC’s grand plan to help the All Progressives Congress, APC, win the 2019 polls.
Secondus said that it was puzzling that the electoral commission would attempt to prevent the use of phones, which he said is the easiest means of communication in the society during elections.
He maintained that the ban on the use of cameras and recording devices was the strategy of INEC and the APC-led government to rig the 2019 elections, stressing that the commission by that singular act had sent the country to the dark, primitive era.
Secondus said, “We have all heard what the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, said about the decision to ban the use of smart phones in the polling units. All over the world, a smart phone is the easiest way of communication.
“What they have said clearly shows that the commission, in connivance with the APC, has perfected a rigging strategy for the next election.
“In fact, INEC has sent Nigeria back to the primitive days. Our position is that INEC is wrong; there is nowhere in the constitution or in the electoral act, where smart phones are banned.
“INEC, if you throw this country to crisis, you will be held responsible.”
A statement by the Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Media, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, also quoted the PDP chairman as restating his opposition to President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 in a bid to avoid the use of card readers.
“The same plan to rig the 2019 election is responsible for the refusal of the president to sign the amended Electoral Act because the card reader must be used,” he added.
Meanwhile, INEC has clarified that it was not banning the use of Smartphone around the polling unit areas, but the moment a prospective voter entered voting cubicle to cast his or her vote.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the declaration in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, stressing that Nigerians were fully aware of the challenge of vote-buying and selling that reared its ugly head in recent elections.
Oyekanmi said that had prompted many stakeholders to call on INEC to devise innovative ways to tackle the problem.
His words, “In consultation with other stakeholders, the Commission came up with new measures to solve the problem, one of which is to disallow the use of smart phones and other electronic devices in the voting cubicles on election day.
“In other words, INEC is not banning phones around the polling unit area, but the ban takes effect from the moment a prospective voter collects his or her ballot paper and enters into voting cubicle to thumb print and thereafter drop the folded ballot paper into the ballot box.
“After that, the voter can have access to his or her phone.”
The INEC chairman’s Chief Press Secretary urged Nigerians to disregard any attempt by any individual or group to politicise what was purely a preventive measure.