Claim: A Twitter user claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was yet to commence the distribution of permanent voters cards (PVCs) to newly registered voters, days to the 2021 Anambra governorship election.
Verdict: True. INEC is yet to commence distribution of permanent voters cards to newly-registered voters in Anambra State for the 2021 governorship election.
Full Text: As the election for who becomes the next governor of Anambra State draws near, Nigerians have continued to express concerns over the safety of voters, owing to the spate of insecurity in the state, occasioned allegedly by the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The separatist group has been linked to recent violent attacks across the state, targeting private citizens, security agents, and even government parastatals, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), whose state office in Awka was attacked in May 2021. Office blocks, vehicles and vital election materials were destroyed in the attack, further setting back preparations and creating doubts over the possibility of the conduct of the November 6 elections.
One of such concerns was recently re-echoed by a Twitter user, Ifeanyichukwu (@OgbajiIfeanyi), in a series of posts. He claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not started distribution of permanent voters cards to newly-registered voters in the state, with just a few days left until the election, calling into question the preparedness of INEC to conduct the elections.
“23 days to Anambra elections, but @inecnigeria is yet to start distribution of PVC after CVR. Na Tinubu Portfolio we go take vote?” he tweeted, attaching a photo of former senator and ex-governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu and Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari,” the tweet reads.
The user who has over eight thousand followers also tweeted: “20days to Anambra elections, but @inecnigeria is yet to start distribution of PVC after CVR.. @PoliceNG don already map out 35k officers and 2 Helicopters, na Biafran war?!”, in addition to other tweets, here and here.
@VoterEduNG, a handle dedicated to voter education in Nigeria also shared a similar tweet: “Anambra State Gubernatorial election is 21 DAYS away. Reports say 1.2 million were registered during the CVR. @inecnigeria is yet to start distribution of PVC. How are Anambra residents supposed to vote ?. @NewsWireNGR @ConstitutionLab @nassnigeria #VoterApathy @OgbajiIfeanyi.”
Findings by Dubawa showed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not abandoned plans to conduct the 2021 Anambra State Governorship election, despite the uncertainty over the election.
Dispelling rumours of rescheduling the election, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in October, assured that the election will not be postponed.
“From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the governorship election scheduled for 6 November 2021 must not hold,” Mr Yakubu said.
However, to forestall this plan, Mr Yakubu noted that the commission will continue to work closely with security agencies, respected opinion leaders in Anambra State and the National Peace Committee, to ensure that these attacks “do not derail the electoral process.”
“To underscore this determination, the commission is implementing two more activities on the Timetable for the election in the next few days. The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7 October 2021. On the same day, the commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election,” he said.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, said in a statement that the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) will also be ready for collection on or shortly after October 7, 2021.
“The PVCs of the new registrants will be ready for collection on or shortly after October 7,” Mr Okoye said.
While INEC has published the final list of candidates for the election and presented the register of voters to the political parties – two activities also scheduled for October 7 – findings by Dubawa revealed that the commission has yet to resume the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in the state.
As of October 21, 2021, two weeks after October 7 slated for the commencement of the process, registered voters had not started collecting their PVCs.
Speaking with Dubawa, Nonso Okafor, a resident of Obosi, said the exercise had not commenced. “I have not collected my PVC and I have not received any email from them so far. The last time I went there they said we should come back,” he said.
Another resident, Austin Nze, noted that while the collection of PVCs had not commenced, a lot of people are not interested in the process due to the current security challenges in the state.
“There’s just this apathy and indifference in the state, which I can understand, given the Awka and Anambra situation, and the whole IPOB issue,” he said.
“Given that, it is not exactly the safest place to be, and everyone here just has that intention of staying low during the election.”
When Dubawa contacted Mr Okoye, he restated the commitment of the commission to conduct the election as planned, adding that the PVCs for newly registered voters were currently being printed and will soon be ready for collection.
“We are printing the PVCs presently. We have their (voters) telephone numbers and email addresses. The moment their PVCs are ready, we will send emails to them and text messages and call them by phone and they will come and pick their PVCs.
“Everybody who registered and really wants to vote will get their PVCs at least a week before the election,” he said.
The claim that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not commenced the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to newly registered voters is true. Findings by Dubawa showed that two weeks after the date given by INEC for the commencement of the collection of the PVCs, the commission has yet to commence the exercise.
However, INEC told Dubawa that the printing of PVCs was currently ongoing and would be ready for collection by voters, at least a week before the election.
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