INEC highlights framework for voting by IDPs

INEC office signpost
INEC office signpost

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has highlighted how Nigerians who have been displaced by conflicts and terrorism would not be disenfranchised.

As result of the insurgency in the North-east, farmer/herder crisis and other communal conflicts across states in the country, the national chairman of the commission said there is need to factor in the Internally Displaces Persons (IDPs) so that they can also exercise their voting rights in the 2019 general elections.

The chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this at a stakeholder’s variation conference on the framework for IDP voting in Abuja, on Wednesday.

The conference was brought together by INEC, the National Assembly committees on elections, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKAID), International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), and Security Agencies.

The aim of the conference is to draft a framework for voters to vote in different states.

The framework classifies IDPs into interstate and intrastate IDPs.

Intrastate are displaced persons still in their state of registration while interstate IDPs are persons displaced and found in camps different from their state of registration.

The chairman of the IDP voting committee, Okechukwu Ibeano, said the intrastate IDPs shall participate in all election categories while interstate shall only participate in presidential election in order to limit the challenges associated with political perception and suspicion over transmission of results across state borders, as well as constituency boundaries.

The framework, which seeks to approve e-collation of results from IDPs camps, specified that results from partially displaced intrastate IDP will be merged at the Registration Area (RA) level using IDP special result sheets.

For interstate IDPs, results merging shall be at the state level for the presidential election while the location of RA and Local Government Area collation centres in affected areas shall be determined by the safety of location.

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It also stated that this will be achieved by a collaboration between Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of affected states with the IDPs.

He said the RECs will make electoral resources required for a successful interstate IDP voting available and will make adequate special arrangements to distribute Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Under the framework, results sheets for voting at the IDP camps or voting centres will be reconfigured to RA level with a special form, EC8.

Smart Card Readers to be utilised for IDP voting will be reconfigured to RA level and all polling units in a particular RA are to use one card reader for the authentication procedure.

To inform the public and IDPs, the commission will, through direct communication, (ensure) the production of specific audio and visual messages such as jingles of 30-60 seconds duration, docudrama for radio, short documentaries of between 15-30 minutes on thematic areas such as the right to vote and voting procedure.

The commission will also use air messages, INEC publicity materials, conduct sensitisation fora and voter education in local languages in IDP camps.

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