Dust from voter ID biometrics contracts ‘irregularities’ yet to settle in Liberia, Kenya
Talks continue around Liberia’s process to select a contractor for the supply of biometric voter ID equipment in the country, which sparked a huge dose of controversy in the past couple of months. One of the losing bidders in the process — local IT company Professional Services International (PSI) — is now questioning why the National Elections Commission (NEC) ignored the bid of its American partner HID Global despite its capabilities to deliver the goods.
In Kenya, an official at the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) who was convicted in a fraud case related to the acquisition of electronic voter ID equipment for the country’s March 2013 elections is said to have paid the fine leveled against him and been freed from prison.
Meanwhile, in election-related news from Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says politicians buying voter IDs in order to manipulate poll results in next year’s general elections will be beaten in their game by the robustness of the biometric Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVAS) which the election agency plans to deploy.
Liberia voter ID contract bid losers cry foul
PSI, a local company with which HID Global tendered for the Liberia biometric voter ID equipment contract, has criticized the country’s NEC for ignoring their joint bid even as it was listed as one of the most responsive after a physical demonstration.
Recall that the biometric voter ID contract process became a saga that sparked a litany of controversies, with Dutch firm Laxton Group finally reported to have been chosen as the contractor of choice for the project.
The CEO and founder of PSI, Varney Fahnnbulleh, told the Daily Observer in an interview that they already had rugged biometric voter registration devices in Liberia as part of their preparations for the contract they were eyeing. He added that the NEC was very much aware of this situation.
The PSI official also questioned why President George Weah during the recent U.S.-African Summit lobbied the U.S. for help in the conduct of the upcoming election in Liberia whereas the offer of an American firm (HID Global) to supply quality biometric equipment for the same exercise was ignored.
Kenyan official convicted in voter ID contract scam pays fine
Wilson Shollei, an erstwhile official of Kenya’s IEBC, who was found guilty for his role in an irregular voter ID equipment procurement contract is said to have paid the fine required of him and been freed from jail.
As Kenyan daily The Star reports, Shollei, who was convicted at the time alongside then CEO of the IEBC James Oswago, was released from his seven-year sentence after he paid the fine of 7.5 million Kenyan shillings (US$60,800) as confirmed by his lawyer.
The lawyer said Shollei had also abandoned an appeal application which had been filed after the conviction by Anti-Corruption Magistrate Felix Kombo. He however plans to amend it, apparently for a new filing.
Shollei and Oswago were both charged after they were accused of violating the law in a tender process to procure biometric voter ID equipment for general elections in Kenya 10 years ago.
No fraudster will bypass our biometric system, INEC warns
As the countdown to Nigeria’s general election next year narrows, the election management agency has warned that no one planning to use fraudulent voter ID cards to manipulate poll results will succeed.
INEC National Commissioner Festus Okoye is quoted as saying recently on local television station Channels TV that an attempt to bypass the BVAS will be an exercise in futility.
The reaction from the official comes after alarm was raised by two civil society groups which claimed that some politicians were buying Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to illegally swell ballot boxes in certain areas.
According to Okoye, the BVAS — INEC’s bi-modal biometric system for voter accreditation and authentication at polling stations — will not accept the fingerprints of potential voters who hold IDs which do not belong to them. Such persons, he said, will be arrested and prosecuted for their offence.
The official also assured that INEC has made provisions for additional BVAS machines as backup for those that will be deployed in the more than 170,000 polling stations nationwide for the February and March elections.
There has been concern and criticism of the implementation of the new system, but INEC officials are adamant it will go ahead.
Africa | biometrics | digital ID | government purchasing | Kenya | Liberia | Nigeria | voter accreditation | voter registration