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Nigerian Electoral Commission Confident of Transparent Vote

FILE - Nigerian presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, center, from the All Progressives Congress party waves to his supporters as he arrives for a party rally in Maiduguri, Feb. 16, 2015.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) concluded its final meeting with all registered political parties Thursday ahead of the March 28 election.

Nick Dazang, INEC's deputy director for public affairs, told VOA, “We updated them about our preparations to conduct the 2015 general elections. We were able to explain to them the procedures and the guidelines for these elections. We were also able to explain to them the ballots and the colors of the ballots and the papers that would be used on Election Day.”

Some political parties, including President Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), expressed concern about the use of the voter card reader machines the election body plans to use during the poll.

The parties said at the meeting the machines should not be used, arguing that millions of prospective voters could be disenfranchised during the poll.

Dazang said recent tests conducted by INEC publicly in parts of the country, however, show the machines will be reliable, effective and ensure the poll’s credibility.

He said the machines achieved 100 percent efficiency during the tests. Dazang also said the electoral body is satisfied with the outcome of the tests, adding that the use of the card reader machines will ensure the election is transparent and credible.

“We shared with them our own reports of the demonstration of the card readers in 12 states of the federation last Saturday,” said Dazang.

“What the card reader is supposed to achieve were for one: to verify the Permanent Voter Cards to authenticate the voter, to keep a trail of the details of the accreditation at the polling unit and also to send the total number of those accredited in a particular polling unit to our server," he said.

“We were also able to achieve the tallying of all those that were accredited in the polling unit at the level of 100 percent. We were also able to send data obtained from the accreditation to the server up to the tune of 100 percent. But it is at the point where you will put your finger print and then the card reader verifies you, at that level we scored 60 percent,” he added.

Critics say INEC’s plan to use the card reader machines during the elections could create the platform for the losing parties to legally challenge the outcome of the election.

Dazang disagreed, saying INEC has made provisions to accommodate voters when the machines malfunction.

“There is an incidence form, which our staff at the polling unit will fill in,” he said.

Incumbent President Jonathan faces a stiff challenge from General Muhammadu Buhari, of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

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