Nigeria's general elections will begin on Saturday, February 23, except there is an act of God, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said. 

While everyone is looking forward to this Presidential and National Assembly elections, fears have been raised over the efficiency of card reader machines, but the INEC says it has covered issues of malfunctioning and that Nigerians should not be afraid.  

The Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday briefed election observers, both local and foreign, and the media.

At that briefing, he emphasised that persons whose fingerprints could not be read by the smart card reader could still vote. 

"May I talk briefly on what failure of the card reader to the commission is. 

"Card readers are made to read voter's bio-metrics, but some people assume that when the bio-metric is not read the machine has failed.  

"The card reader confirms that the card is not cloned, it's issued by the commission. "So, it plays a confirmatory role."The card reader also confirms that the person who presents it is the actual owner of the card and not stolen identity. "Once that is confirmed. Once the PVC is read by the card reader, the voter is accredited. Information is safe in the card reader."But the commission took a step higher by authenticating the voter using the bio-metrics."Remember that at the point of registration, we captured all the 10 fingers and so that is used to authenticate. "But in the event of the card reader's failure to read the bio-metric, no voter is disenfranchised on that score. "That is why in 2015 the commission introduced the incident form, but we have modified it for the 2019 general elections. "Realising that in 2015, the voter had no part to play in completing the incident form, now we have created two boxes. One square, one rectangular on the register of voters right beneath the voter's photograph where we require that the voter whose finger print is no authenticated by the card reader will thumbprint and then to leave his phone number.

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"We do so for two reasons, in the event of litigation, you can summon the voters' register and do a forensic test to see if one person has been thumb printing or there are genuine voters whose finger prints could not be read by the smart card reader.  "But secondly, after election, we will then use the information on the register of voters to invite those whose finger prints the machine could not pick so that we now examine the reasons why and may be recapture the information," he told the gathering in Abuja. 

The INEC also said that "in an event of complete malfunctioning, there is a spare capacity".  

This development, however, places more burden on the shoulders of party agents at polling units, as they will have to pay attention to the whole process to ensure that persons whose finger prints could not be captured by the card reader must have to use the Incident Form and complete the process of filling it too. 

There have been cases of destruction and theft of voters' cards and such cards could be used by some persons to vote once they could confirm where the original owner registered. 

Giving attention to everyone whose fingers are not authenticated is very important to guard against malpractices. 

Party agents may request that they snap the document to have a copy with them before INEC officials take the document away to keep as evidence, just in case the party wants to go to court over possible malpractice. 

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