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Confab: E-voting device not yet installed at venue

The Federal Government  has started installing necessary facilities at the 1,000-seater banquet hall of the National Judicial Institute, Abuja,  venue of the national conference.

But less than five days to the commencement of the conference, the electronic-voting system, which will be used by delegates,  has not been installed.

The expansive hall will be taken over by 492 delegates   and journalists next week when President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurates  the conference.

Findings showed that only delegates, conference committee members and accredited journalists would be allowed to access the conference hall.

One of our correspondents,  who visited the venue located on the Airport bypass,Jabi, Abuja, on Wednesday, learnt that the necessary facilities including audio-visual equipment, had been put in place.

It was gathered that the medical and fire fighting facilities had also been installed for emergencies, as well as a catering service that would provide food for the delegates.

Checks indicated that security agencies had put in place measures to ensure a hitch-free conference, and armed personnel are expected to take over the overall security of the NJI from the unarmed legionnaire officers employed by the institute’s management.

The Assistant Secretary of the Conference Committee on Media and Communications, James Akpandem, confirmed to our correspondent that the e-voting system had not been installed.

He said that this would be done before the conference commenced.

“We have installed various facilities we would need, including audio-visual equipment, but the e-voting facility has not been installed; this would be done before the conference kicks off,” Akpandem said.

He explained that the medical facility at the NJI could handle minor medical cases, but serious ones  would be referred to the Federal Staff Clinic, located beside the institute.

“Where you are expecting about 500 people, some of them may have health issues and the medical personnel on grounds can take care of that, but serious medical cases and emergencies will be referred to the Federal Staff Clinic which shares the fence with the institute here,”Akpandem stated.

When asked about the  budgetary allocation to the confab committee, Akpandem said it was not as “big as it is being reported in the media,” adding that the needed amount was drawn by the Federal Government for the conduct of the  conference.

On the rules guiding the conference proceedings and the code of conduct for participants, Akpandem noted that the programme would have its rules like any other conference. He stressed that delegates were expected to be mature in conduct and serious-minded in their approach to issues.

He said, “Every conference has its rules and this one is a national assignment, and it is not different. We expect delegates to conduct themselves maturely; this is a national project that will shape the country’s future, so delegates must be mature and serious-minded in their conduct and approach.”

Akpandem explained that the committee expected challenges, but added that it would keep an open mind and deal with them as they come.

Following the Federal Government’s decision to monetise accommodation for delegates, many of them on Wednesday were in a last minute rush to make reservations in luxury hotels.

It was, however, gathered that rooms in many of the hotels in the central parts of the city had been fully booked.

“People have been calling   to make reservations. Our rooms are all booked,” said a  worker with one of the  hotels.

President Goodluck Jonathan, had in his 2013 Independence Day broadcast, said that the Federal Government would organise a national conference.

Meanwhile,  24 delegates that will represent pro-democracy Civil Society Organisations in the national conference have released their demands.

The delegates said they would demand a national referendum as the only means for validating the resolutions of the confab.

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