Ghana opposition warns EC tampering with biometric voter verification devices

Ghana opposition warns EC tampering with biometric voter verification devices

Ghana’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed concerns that the Electoral Commission (EC) is trying to tamper with the biometric verification devices (BVDs) that were used in the just-ended elections in the country.

Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7 to elect a new president and members of Parliament.

Incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo was declared winner of the presidential vote, beating his traditional challenger and former President John Mahama.

Neither Mahama nor his NDC party have acknowledged the authenticity of the results, as they allege massive fraud.

The NDC is now following up on this with another accusation that an EC official has ordered for the deactivation of the BVDs, in contravention of the country’s electoral laws.

In a statement quoted by Ghanaian news portals Modern Ghana and GhanaWeb, the NDC’s director of elections, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, sounded an alarm saying the reported deactivation is a violation of the country’s  electoral law which states that election materials shall be kept intact for at least one year after an election.

“It has come to the attention of the National Democratic Congress that the Electoral Commission, through Dr. Yaw Ofori Adjei, has directed that all biometric devices used in the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections be deactivated,” part of the statement reads.

According to the NDC official, deactivating the biometric devices is a deliberate attempt by the election management body to “…to destroy evidence related to non-verification of voters in the elections.”

“This directive is illegal because Regulation 47 (3) of CI 127 states that ‘The Commission shall, subject to the provisions of these Regulations, (a) retain for a year, documents forwarded to the Commission; and (b) destroy the documents after a year unless otherwise directed by a court. This implies that unless otherwise directed by a court of competent jurisdiction, all records related to elections must be retained and preserved for a period of one year,” the NDC official noted in the statement.

He warned that the move to deactivate the BVDs is punishable by an imprisonment of up to two years or a fine, or both. “We wish to serve notice that this directive is illegal and constitutes an electoral offence punishable, upon conviction, by two years imprisonment or five hundred penalty units or both. This is a caution to all electoral officers to disobey this unlawful directive or face prosecution,” the statement added.

Ghana acquired more than 74,000 biometric verification devices ahead of elections in the West African nation early this month.

An electoral commission authority said days before the polls that they hoped to have an expedient electoral process thanks, in part, to the availability of the devices, which he said, would avert queues at polling stations because they expected rapid biometric verification of voters.

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