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 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.
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.