Rohingya NID fraud: CEC says EC not at fault

On September 23, police had arrested three temporary staff of the Chittagong District Election office, over their alleged involvement in the fraudulent activities

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda says the Election Commission is not at fault for many Rohingyas having managed to fraudulently get their hands on Bangladeshi national identity (NID) cards.

He made the claim talking to reporters in Rangpur on Monday, but added: “We have identified those involved in this [helping Rohingyas get NID cards], and stern action will be taken against them.”

The CEC said: “The Election Commission server has information on all 104 million voters. None of them are Rohingyas.”

He said they stopped those of the 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh, who tried to get away with acquiring Bangladesh NIDs by fraudulent means.

Huda also said the Rohingyas and their cohorts forged NID cards and that they did not get the information from the commission’s server.

However, the CEC’s remarks directly contradict the information revealed last week by the director general (DG) of the commission’s National Identity Registration Wing.

DG Brig Gen Saidul Islam on September 23 confirmed that a number of employees of the commission were involved in helping Rohingyas collect NID cards.

“We have specific data on how many [EC] staff members were involved. We are not disclosing their names for the sake of the investigation. But the number is not more than 15,” he told a press briefing at his office.

“We have so far got a list of 61 Rohingyas who tried to become voters. We are examining their information, how they made such efforts, and who assisted them,” the DG said.

The involved staff will be brought to book soon. The Election Commission will do everything necessary to ensure their maximum punishment,” he added.

Saidul said back then that the commission had started a drive against all irregularities, and would take all necessary measures to protect the NID database.

On September 23, police arrested three temporary staff members of the Chittagong District Election office, for their alleged involvement in the fraudulent activities.

The same day, police also arrested NID Wing technical expert Shahanur Mia from the commission office in Dhaka, for purportedly enrolling Rohingyas in the electoral rolls.

Prior to these arrests, police in Chittagong had arrested and sued a number of local election officials — both temporary and permanent — with access to the commission’s equipment, for allegedly helping Rohingyas get NID cards.

In his court confessional statement, Joynal Abedin, an office assistant at the port city’s Double-Mooring election office, also mentioned some names, including commission staff members involved in NID forgery.

The authorities started investigating when a large number of Rohingyas, originally from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, were arrested with Bangladeshi NID cards and passports across the country over the past few months.

‘No compromise’ during Rangpur 3 by-polls

CEC Nurul Huda on Monday also said authorities would not tolerate any breach of the electoral code of conduct ahead of and during the by-elections in Rangpur 3 constituency, slated to commence on October 5.

After a meeting on law and order at the Rangpur Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Huda told reporters they were nearly done with preparations to ensure a secure election environment for voters.

He warned that voting will be suspended and polling centres closed if vote rigging or any kind of irregularities take place during the voting. “Anyone found involved in the irregularities will be punished. here will be no compromise.”

The Rangpur 3 parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad in July.

441,224 voters are scheduled to exercise their franchise on October 5, using electronic voting machines at 175 polling centres across the constituency between 9am and 5pm.