POLLS: Nobody can give 100% assurance INEC database can’t be hacked – Jega

Former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, has said that hacking the database of the electoral commission is possible.

He stated this while speaking to Trust TV on issues surrounding the preparedness of INEC ahead of the Saturday polls and issues regarding elections in the country.

For the 2023 general elections, INEC has introduced a novel tool, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

BVAS is an electronic device designed to read Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and authenticate voters – using the voters’ fingerprints – in order to prove that they are eligible to vote at a particular polling unit.

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The device will also be used to automatically send the number of verified voters for each polling unit, directly to the INEC database.

Commenting on the effectiveness of BVAS, the former INEC chairman commended the level of preparedness by the electoral body, but said he could not guarantee that the commission’s database can’t be hacked.

He said, “You see, in this modern age, nobody can give you 100 per cent assurance that a database cannot be hacked, unless the database is not online.

“In 2015, when we did the elections, our database wasn’t online. But now, particularly because there’s the issue of electronic transmission of results, it has to be online.

“But all over the world, databases are used and they are relatively safe to be used because people now deploy effective cyber-security systems.”

He added that INEC had confirmed employing an excellent cyber security for their databases.

“And INEC had said consistently, that knowing the political terrain, they have also got the best cyber security for the databases that they have. And we have to believe that they’ve done their best.

“It doesn’t mean it will be 100 per cent secure, but I know that whoever uses a database, also uses a security alternative which virtually nobody knows,” he said.

Jega also described the ongoing naira notes scarcity in the country as a poor decision by the government, saying the cashless policy at the time of general election was ill-timed.

“From my experience, cash is required because at the time I did the election in 2015, we deployed 750,000 ad-hoc staff. And this category of staff are required to spend the night at where’s called RAC, that’s Registration Area Centre.

“They will also be there at their various polling units, maybe from 6:00am until hopefully 7:00pm or even longer. So they need to have something to eat. All these people will need cash, because there are most likely no ATM or POS machine to withdraw.

“So cash is a necessary requirement for the operational readiness of INEC on election day. So the cashless policy is ill-timed,” he said.

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