Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Thursday, charged the Independent National Electoral Commission to put in place seamless mechanisms for the registration of voters so as not to wait until few weeks to elections before voter registration and distribution of Permanent Voter Cards.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, also challenged INEC to name and shame PVC hoarders and merchants and hand them over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and security agencies for prosecution of vote buying which is a crime under the Electoral Act 2022.
INEC had extended the deadline for the collection of PVCs from 22 January, 2023 to 29 January having started the process on 12 December, 2022. Many state governments include those of Imo, Katsina, Ebonyi, Lagos, Abia, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Cross River, Yobe, Kaduna, amongst others have since declared work-free days for workers in the states to pick up their PVCs.
INEC also said 93 million voters are eligible to participate in the February 25 and March 11 2023 general elections. It also said following the suspension of continuous voter registration (CVR) on July 31, the number of persons who completed their registration was announced to be 12,298,944.
The electoral body said after cleaning up the voter data using the automated biometric identification system (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6 percent) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record.
INEC also said the remaining 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters, adding that the “preliminary” register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “State governments are declaring public holidays for their people to pick up PVCs. What this demonstrate is poor work by the INEC. INEC must put out a seamless mechanism for registration of voters in such a way that it won’t wait until few weeks to elections and then start registering voters.
“Also, the production of the PVC and distribution are fraught with corruption, inefficiency, and compromises between INEC officials and politicians/money bags. Some politicians in Sokoto and Kano were found with hundreds of PVCs. Hundreds of PVCs were found inside gutters. Kids were found to have been registered as voters by INEC.
“HURIWA demands that INEC name, shame and hand over these corrupt officials to the EFCC and the DSS for prosecution as economic saboteurs before next month’s elections. Politicians who also bought up PVCs in different states should be named, shamed and oriented.”
January 26, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.