Calls for Nigeria to test integrity of biometric matching systems ahead of elections
Civil society group Diasporans for Good Governance have called into question the biometric matching systems the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will use in February’s presidential election after they resulted in high levels of de-validated voters in governorship polls, reports The Daily Post.
The systems in question are the Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS) and Biometric Voter Accountability System (BVAS) which were used in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun polls.
A representative of DGG, Christian Chima, said 2.78 million Nigerians have been invalidated by INEC, of whom 49.3 percent are in the South-South and South-East regions. These regions saw 35.2 percent of voters rejected against an average of 17 percent elsewhere.
“INEC said it used ABIS system to do the invalidation based on the three criteria it listed on its website. DGG is saying with a compromised voter’s register, you cannot conduct a credible election,” Chima is quoted as saying.
INEC said in December that the elections are going ahead with the biometric system and critics cannot stop this. Although it has increased security on its offices following attacks.
Anambra State required fingerprint and face biometrics for the November 2021 governorship poll. The vote was deemed inconclusive due to the failure of the BVAS (bimodal biometric voter accreditation system). Following the vote, 25 additional voter registration centers were opened to accelerate biometric registration and electoral staff were investigated for bribery. By December 2021, INEC reported it planned to use 200,000 BVAS
Ekiti State’s governorship poll was hailed a success, with the biometric voter authentication singled out for praise.
The poll, which a Foreign Policy columnist has named the most important election of 2023, is just a few weeks away on 25 February.
Last year, rights groups brought a complaint against INEC’s attempt to impose a 30 June 2022 cut off for continuous voter registration, which resulted in a Federal High Court allowing the exercise to continue.
Oyo State said more than 42 percent of registrations were invalid, mainly due to duplications caused by people thinking they were expected to re-register.
Voter card collection deadline extension
Elsewhere, NAN reports that the deadline for collecting Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) has been extended by a week by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The deadline has shifted from Sunday 22 to 29 January.
The INEC Chairman said the Commission is investigating reports of extortion by collection center officials as well as voters’ attempts to acquire PVCs in unscrupulous ways.
A total of 13,868,441 PVCs have been printed for new registrants as well as those requiring a transfer or replacement card.