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A’Ibom Tribunal: ICT expert says INEC ad hoc workers not well trained

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inec staffAn information technology professional, Mr Pius Nwankwo, has told the Governorship Election’s Petitions Tribunal in Abuja that human error, among other factors,

led to the malfunction of the card readers during the last governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.

[Photo: INEC ad hoc staff]

Mr Nwankwo who heads the department of Information Communication Technology of INEC State Headquarters in Uyo also said most of the errors during the general elections were caused by the insufficient training acquired by the ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC].

The ICT expert explained that the permanent voter card (PVC) is embedded with a microchip where data about a voter is being stored, and that an antenna in the microchip communicates with the smart card reader.

“If the PVC is manhandled, like being put in the wallet, it affects the microchip and affects the correspondence between the PVC and the card reader and could make it not to be readable,” said Nwankwo who appeared as INEC’s first witness at the tribunal.

Nwankwo, whose explanations were occasionally punctuated by objection calls by the petitioner’s counsel, Solomon Umoh, also informed the tribunal that the INEC ad hoc staffers were barely knowledgeable on the working of the new technology as they had been trained for about a day.

He said also that a mistake in the internet protocol address would cause the data not to be read on the server at the INEC headquarters in Abuja.

While being examined by Counsel to the PDP Mr. Tayo Oyetibo SAN Nwankwo admitted that they had observed such listed challenges during preparations for the 2015 elections.

Nwankwo while being referred to Exhibit 317 (card reader data),revealed to the tribunal that the data uploading process was still in progress, whereas Exhibit 317 before the tribunal contains only the data obtained as at April 27 & after the date, they were still uploading data to the card reader.

The Petitioner’s lawyer, who raised another objection by asking that questions should be limited to the month of April, was rebuffed by Mr. Oyetibo who replied that the statement of the witness clearly states that the uploading of the data to card reader data is a continuing process. 

The tribunal judge Sadiq Umar, had to restrain APC lawyer from making unnecessary interjections, saying he should reserve his arguments for the address.

During cross examination by one of Umana’s lead counsel, Mr Dayo Akinlaja SAN, Mr Nwankwo said he said he made efforts to visit several polling units on the day of elections, but that he was unable to get to the over 1000 units in the state.

Nwankwo also stated that the card readers where operated by the electoral officers (EOs), and were currently at the INEC headquarters in Uyo.

Mfonobong Ukpong

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