Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has assured Nigerians that its database is well fortified and cannot be hacked as alleged recently. The INEC Chairman made the assertion yesterday during a Town Hall meeting hosted by BBC Media Action’s “Talk Your Own radio” programme, held at Protea Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has assured Nigerians that its database is well fortified and cannot be hacked as alleged recently.
The INEC Chairman made the assertion yesterday during a Town Hall meeting hosted by BBC Media Action’s “Talk Your Own radio” programme, held at Protea Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja.
The INEC Chairman who answered various questions from participants said: “I can tell you from our own integrity test and from our own knowledge of the security features that we put in place, it is virtually impossible to hack into our system. It does not stop people from trying but we believe they will not succeed. Hacking is possible if your data is on line; our data is not online”.
When asked on the possibility of a staff compromising the data, Professor Jega replied: “We have taken stringent measures to ensure our data cannot be compromised even by our staff, but if for any reason somebody succeeds in compromising our data, we can easily know who it is very easily. We have checks and balances”.
While admitting that there have been challenges in the production and distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), Professor Jega cleared the air on INEC’s preparedness to conduct the February polls due to such challenges. He said: “There are challenges associated with the production and distribution of the PVCs, but these challenges are not sufficient to reach the conclusion that INEC is not prepared to conduct the 2015 general elections. We feel confident that before February 14th, when the first in the series of elections will take place, every person who has registered will have his card produced and made available for collection. And so we cannot use the issue of card as a measure of if INEC is prepared or not for the election”.
He added: “From our own assessment we are ready to conduct the 2015 general elections. There are many indicators and measures of preparedness, yes voter’s need to have their cards to be able to participate in the election. But it takes two to tango. If we produce the cards and make them available and people do not go to collect them, can INEC be blamed for that?”
On the recently signed peace accord by presidential candidates of political parties, the INEC boss expressed delight and optimism that it will go a long way in reducing incidences of electoral violence to the barest minimum. “We are very pleased that virtually all the candidates have signed to the “Abuja Peace Accord. I think it is a good thing that candidates came out publicly and said that they condemn use of violence in elections, and called on their supporters to also eschew violence. It is regrettable that in spite of that we still have cases of violence but what we need to do is to keep on leveraging on that accord to ensure that there is full compliance with it”.
He used the opportunity to re-emphasise the Commission’s stand on the use of only PVCs and Card Readers for the February polls, which he said will check fraudulent tendencies and improve the integrity of the elections. “We are doing everything possible to ensure that people vote only with PVCs. The reason is that the PVC can be read with a card reader, we can ensure using the card reader, there will be no cloned cards for voting. We can ensure that no politician will buy other peoples cards and bring them on Election Day to use other people to vote. Remember we have eliminated from the register over, 4 million people who have done multiple registrations and who are holding their TVCs, but we did not print their PVCs and did not therefore distribute it to them. If you now say people with TVC should go and vote, all those people will come and attempt to vote. With the card reader it is not possible”. He explained.
Correcting a misrepresentation on the fate of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Professor Jega said: “What I have consistently said is that we are doing our best to make arrangements to ensure that IDPs vote, but only IDPs who have remained in those states whether in camps or host communities, given the time we have, it is virtually impossible to start going round the country to say anybody who left their states because of insurgency we are going to arrange for them to vote”.
When asked about the safety of National Youths Corps members who will be participating as ad hoc staff in the February polls, Jega reiterated the Commission’s commitment towards the safety of all staff. He explained measures put in place to checkmate possible repeat of the 2011 post election violence. He said: “We have introduced many measures since that unfortunate incident and we have done it in close collaboration and working relationship with the directorate of the NYSC and security agencies. We have ensured that all elections that we conducted since 2011, we have identified the residences of youth corps members in addition to the normal security we provide to accompany them to the polling units and back, we also reinforce security at their lodges days before and after elections.”
Commenting on the recent sacking of some staff of the Commission, Professor Jega explained that some staff succumbed to the pressure after the Commission had issued an order prohibiting collection of PVCs by proxy, by giving out a bunch of cards in order to hasten distribution, by so doing violating the order on distribution. “When we got the evidence we took disciplinary action following due process”, he said.
He however said that “substantial majority of INEC staff are honest and decent people doing their work under difficult circumstances but a few people who had done wrong since had given the entire Commission a very bad name, but we have since 2011 began to identify these few bad eggs and either discipline them or flush them out, a move which he said, “has further cleaned the image of the Commission and has improved its efficiency and the integrity with which the Commission has done its job”.
Source: INEC Bulletin