INEC extends time for collection of PVCs
• Rivers Voters Decry Frustration, Abuja Residents Abandon Work To Collect Cards
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has extended the time for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), which was scheduled to end yesterday, to Monday, February 11.
The collection of PVCs would now take place from 9am to 6pm daily, including today and tomorrow.Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, who disclosed this while interacting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at INEC headquarters in Abuja, directed all state offices to review the procedure for the collection of the cards and dedicate all the staff of the local government offices to the collection process.He enjoined staff to be civil in attending to citizens and not escalate issues that they cannot immediately resolve, adding: “The Commission wishes to reassure Nigerians that we will continue to take every necessary step to ensure that no registered voter is disenfranchised on account of non-collection of PVCs.
“Similarly, the Commission is taking urgent steps to address complaints of unavailability of the PVCs of some registered voters before the end of the deadline for the collection”.
Yakubu explained that after the Monday deadline, all uncollected PVCs would be recalled and deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for safe-keeping until after the general elections when the collection of cards and the continuous registration of voters would resume.
Ahead of yesterday’s earlier deadline, residents of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who said they had to abandon their daily routine to obtain their PVCs, were unable to do so, as INEC claimed to have omitted theirs during the production of PVCs.
This followed text message directing registered voters yet to collect their PVCs to visit INECs offices where they registered to do so.Text message read: “Are you a registered voter and yet to collect your PVC? Please visit INECs LGA office where you registered to collect your PVC from 9am-3pm, Monday to Friday 2019. Remember, No PVC, NO VOTING!!!”
An INEC official at the Women Centre in Gwa-Gwa, blamed the inability of some registered voters to obtain their PVCs on omission during the process of production, asking those affected to visit INEC office in Garki to lay official complaint.
The official claimed to have been attacked and injured with a machete by angry voters whose PVCs were omitted during production.
Anene Nwobodo, a taxi driver, who resides in Gwa-Gwa, said he had to abandon his work to collect his PVC, but lamented that he had been qualified from voting, as his card could not be located.
Another resident, Okoroafor Moses, a civil servant with the Federal Road Safety Corps bemoaned his inability to obtain his PVC.
Ruth Oliver, a trader in AMAC, alleged that INEC was trying to disenfranchise some group in society.
It was a frustrating scenario at the various centres designated by INEC for PVC collection in Rivers State, as thousands of registered voters were unable to get their card.The initial deadline increased the number of voters on the queue and late arrival of officers and other technical errors marred the exercise.
A visit to INEC office in Obio/Akpor Council and Water lines axis in the state capital showed overwhelming crowd under the scorching sun for about five to six hours waiting to pick their cards, some of whose cards could not be located after the long wait.
Some voters alleged that INEC officers demanded money ranging between N500 to N1000 to release their cards, which they saw as a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise many voters.One of them said: “This is the third time I am coming to the INEC office to collect my PVC. After spending four to five hours on queue, I still could not collect it, as I was either told they had close or come back.”
Spokesperson for INEC in the state, Geraldine Ekelemu, debunked the allegation of bribery for the issuance of PVC, insisting that the Commission does not request for money for either registration or collection of voter card.She, however, urged complainants with proof to forward same to INEC for proper investigations and sanctions.
“Meanwhile, the public should beware of community people and fake officers who take advantage of the large crowd to demand money from them to release their voters card, as such people are not INEC staff,” Ekelemu stated.
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