Nigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC, has declared 42 per cent of new voters registration invalid just as it unveiled new Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for distribution across the country.
The commission, through its National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday, said a total of 1,854,859 PVCs will be ready for collection by direct owners in the 36 states and FCT after the Easter holiday.
Since the commencement of its Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) on June 28, 2021, millions of Nigerians have completed the processes physically and online ahead of 2023 General Elections.
Of these figures spread across four quarters, Mr Yakubu said a little above 55 per cent of the participants in June and December 2021 scaled through the commission’s data clean up exercise.
He identified multiple registration and incomplete data as the reasons for the invalid voter registrations, an ‘illegality’ he disclosed to have been encouraged by some staff of the commission across the country.
“This development is worrisome because of the time and resources expended in handling these cases. Even more disturbing are the strong indications that some of our staff may be complicit in facilitating these infractions, notwithstanding stern warnings.
“Consequently, the Commission is reviewing reports on such staff and has commenced a detailed investigation which may include the prosecution of those found culpable. Specific registrants associated with these infractions by our staff may also face prosecution in line with Sections 22 and 23 of the Electoral Act 2022,” the INEC chairman told journalists at the unveiling of new PVCs at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
As explained by Mr Yakubu, the commission detected the recurring case of double registration through its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a device that captures electorates identification through fingerprint and facial biometric recognition.
Similar cases were recorded when INEC conducted the exercise ahead of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections.
Through the use of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which has been replaced with ABIS, INEC declared that over four million registrations were invalid out of the 73 million Nigerians earlier announced to have registered in 2011.
A little above a million ineligible registrants were also detected and removed after the exercise in 2015.
After cleaning up the data, 84,004,084 persons were declared as registered voters ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Mr Yakubu, against the backdrop of the recurring double registration challenge, called on the media, political parties, CSOs and other stakeholders in the country’s election process to help in educating electorates on the dangers of double registration as the country prepares for the Ekiti and Osun governorship polls as well as the general election.
As stated in its statement issued barely 10 days ago, the INEC reiterated its commitment to following its schedule of activities to the letter irrespective of political parties compliance.
With 52 days left for the conduct of political parties primaries as stipulated by the constitution, Mr Yakubu reminded concerned political actors to “adhere strictly to all dates in the timetable, including the nomination of their candidates via the INEC web portal” or face the wrath of law.
He disclosed that 10 political parties have officially notified the commission of their plans for primaries while eight others are yet to take the step.
The INEC boss did not disclose names of the parties involved but PREMIUM TIMES can confirm that Nigeria’s ruling APC has not officially picked a date for its primary election. The main opposition, PDP, has slated February 25 for Presidential and National Assembly and March 11 for Governorship and State Assembly seats.
“The Commission wishes to reiterate that the dates for all activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election, including the conduct of party primaries, are firm and fixed. Already, ten political parties have served notices to the Commission for the conduct of their primaries.
“With 52 days to the last day for the conduct of primaries (i.e. 3rd June), political parties are once again admonished to adhere strictly to all dates in the Timetable, including the nomination of their candidates via the INEC web portal. Such nominated candidates must emerge from valid primaries as provided in Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022. This is necessary to avoid the unhappy consequences of any breach of the Commission’s Timetable or the Electoral Act,” INEC warned.
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