A ballot box filled with ballot is pictured before being counted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a polling station in Yenagoa in Bayelsa State ~ PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Abuja - Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs), on Monday in Abuja, applauded INEC’s mock test of the card reader conducted on March 7.
The commendation is contained in a statement signed by Mr Clement Nwankwo, on behalf of the CSOs under their umbrella association "Situation Room".
The group said that the card reader functioned well and the exercise started on time in most of the venues where the tests were conducted without any rancour.
The statement noted that "INEC’s demonstration of the use of the card reader and PVC passed the integrity test and must be commended.
"On the basis of the test and assurances of improvement, Situation Room calls on the full use and deployment of the card readers and PVCs for the 2015 general elections."
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The group said the test was successful and that INEC officials performed their duties and functions in a professional manner in collaboration with security personnel.
It urged INEC to intensify efforts toward voter education and civic education so that citizens would know the significance of their participation under the new arrangement to ensure that their votes actually count.
"This must be regarded as high priority due to the low turnout of voters as most of them expressed their lack of knowledge of the functionality of the card reader and the essence of the mock accreditation exercise."
The CSOs urged Nigerians to support INEC and urged registered voters who have not collected their PVCs to do so.
The group also called on political parties, faith-based organisations and other stakeholders to continue to sensitise the public toward a successful general election.
"INEC should endeavour to make alternative card readers available and accessible on election day to avoid unnecessary delay in the accreditation process," it added.
The group said INEC should develop a process of dealing with the issue of discrepancies of details on the PVC and the card reader in a way that the card reader could be reconfigured to avoid disenfranchisement of any voter.
It stated that "INEC should work on processes and options that will facilitate and fine-tune the biometric authentication process."
It noted that late arrival of officials, low turnout of voters, occasional connectivity issues with the card reader, as well as authentication of fingerprints were, however, some of the challenges.
The"Situation Room" is made up of more than 60 civil society organisations.