The 2019 general elections are fast approaching, but not without challenges.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has a lot to deal with if the 2019 polls will be free and fair.

But chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, seems to know his way around it as he revealed how he tackled Alibaba and other online platforms that put up Nigeria’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) for sale.

Alibaba.com put up PVCs for sale, but the advert was removed following outrage by Nigerians and a move by INEC.

Speaking at the Quarterly Consultative meeting with Civil Society Organizations on Thursday, Yakubu said commitment was extracted from Alibaba.com to stop the unwholesome practice forthwith.

He said the sale of PVCs have been seen on two other online platforms, but they have been taken care of as well.

“I wish to assure you that our electoral processes have gone beyond the capacity of our own officials to manipulate. The procedures are robust. The claim that the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) are cloned and Smart Card Readers pre-loaded is simply ludicrous.

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“The Card Readers are only configured to specific polling units 72 hours or less before an election, set to operate only on election day from 8am and is manually shut down for accreditation after the last person on the queue has voted or automatically by 8pm.

“We are aware that as we approach the 2019 elections, there will be a lot of interest in our activities for virtuous& malicious reasons. Few days ago, Nigerians were legitimately outraged by the image of a blank PVC advertised by an offshore Company for purchase in the open market

“Within a few hours, we contacted the online platform responsible for the advert which promptly removed it. What Nigerians may not know is that it was not a single advertiser. A second company was forced to remove a similar advert and only yesterday a third one was withdrawn.

“We have extracted a commitment from Alibaba.com to stop this unwholesome practice forthwith & will continue to work with the security agencies to track down those responsible for the advert as well as any prospective buyers of which there are none so far.

“We suspect that many dubious enterprises will keep trying openly and in the dark web. We have anticipated these challenges and we are far ahead of the mischief makers. Our security source codes are not only robust but continuously enhanced.

“We wish to reassure Nigerians that our sensitive and non-sensitive materials, processes and procedures are secure.”

Nigeria’s presidential election has been slated for February 2019, and incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari has declared his interest to re-contest.

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