Some desperate politicians in Kogi State have been accused of hatching plans to manipulate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVAS) during the 2023 general elections.
The scheme is said to be spearheaded by the party leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the twenty-one local government areas of the state and the wards. The various leaders across the 239 wards are said to be field officers who either purchase PVCs directly from some compromised INEC staff charged with the responsibility of distributing the PVCs to the owners, buy off the PVCs from willing electorates impoverished by prevailing economic hardship and/or copy the PVC numbers of some of those who have not fully decided to mortgage their franchise. The account details of this category of people are collected with a promise to credit their accounts upon providing evidence of voting for the said party at the polls.
While INEC, through its commissioner in charge of publicity and voter education has consistently assured Nigerians that the BVAS machine is a sure fix for electoral manipulation, this newspaper gathered that there is a possibility of frauds in unsuspecting areas, which sources said are being exploited in collaboration with some alleged rogue staff of the commission.
Okoye had, for instance, during his appearance on Channels TV, described the alleged plans by politicians to manipulate the 2023 general elections as efforts in futility, arguing that “the BVAS will be used for the accreditation and authentication of voters come 2023, and it will reject biometric data of persons who are not original owners of the traded PVCs.” He however did not address the issue of using the number to accredit voters in the event the biometrics system is unable to verify the voter since the BVAs is said to have the details of all potential voters per polling unit.
But in contrast to the national commissioner’s statement, available information revealed that some agents of the party have concluded arrangement to pre-load the BVAS with already accredited voters with result programmed to their advantage. It is said that they would preload the spare BVAS machines which they hope to deploy mid-way into voting citing malfunction in the one in operation at the time taking unsuspecting opposition party agents on the off side.
According to inside sources, constant issues are being raised on allegations of attempts to manipulate the two basic tools in the coming general elections, the BVAS and the PVCs but that it is impossible without the active connivance of INEC especially those in the ICT department. The major target in their arrangement is the polling unit where they have non-state actors as security people and where more than one BVAS has been provided.
“Another hidden plan by this group of election riggers is to allow multiple voting in an area where the voting points are more than one. That is, a voter who cast his/her vote in a voting point will have an option of voting in another point because, all the voting points within the same polling unit are configured and uploaded with the total registered voters of the polling unit. The major target LGAs for this arrangement are all the Local Governments in Kogi Central, Kabba-Bunu, Lokoja, Olamaboro, Ankpa Dekina, Ofu and Ibaji LGAs,” the source said.
“The urgent need to speak out by INEC is required to allay the fears of the people and ensure a psychologically stable electoral ground for smooth and trouble-free polls.
Speaking further, the source said: “The electoral commission must therefore move to protect its beautiful innovations and ensure that there is strict adherence to regulations and provisions of the new electoral act. Security agents need to rise up and forestall this evil arrangement.”