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INEC faults claim it failed to register seven million voters

By Oludare Richards (Kano) and Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja)
20 September 2022   |   4:06 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission has described as misleading, the claim that it denied over seven million Nigerians the opportunity to complete their online pre-registration during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Festus Okoye

• Gets HODs trained by UNDP on election mgt, monitoring
The Independent National Electoral Commission has described as misleading, the claim that it denied over seven million Nigerians the opportunity to complete their online pre-registration during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

The electoral umpire noted that most of the affected citizens failed to either complete the online enrolment or appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process.

Twenty-four Nigerians had dragged the commission before an Abuja Federal High Court for “failing to give them and other seven million Nigerians adequate time and opportunity to complete their voter registration after they have carried out their registration online.”

The claimants are seeking an order of mandamus to direct INEC to provide adequate facilities and deploy personnel to their registration units.

But the National Commissioner in charge of voter education, Festus Okoye, in a statement, yesterday, insisted Nigerians were given enough time to complete their registrations, noting that the deployment of technologies was to ease the entire exercise.

Okoye said: “The attention of the Commission has been drawn to media reports that some seven million Nigerians, who applied for online pre-registration as voters during the last nationwide CVR, were denied the opportunity to complete their registration and consequently the collection of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). This claim is misleading.

“To set the record straight, Nigerians may recall that on June 28, 2021, the Commission introduced the online pre-registration of voters. By doing so, citizens were given opportunity to commence the registration online and then book for an appointment at their convenience to complete the physical biometric capture at designated centres. It was a novel idea leveraging technology to ease the registration process. This was in addition to the walk-in option at physical centres, where Nigerians can commence and complete their registration simultaneously without going through the online pre-registration procedure.”

“In the interest of transparency, the Commission provided weekly statistical updates on the exercise.

“For the online pre-registration, a total 10,487,972 commenced the process.” However, by the deadline of the exercise, 3,444,378 Nigerians completed their pre-registration physically at the designated centres in line with the Commission’s policy. Some 7,043,594 applicants did not complete the registration. Again, the Commission made the information public. This is what some people are now using to say that they were denied the opportunity when in reality, they failed to either complete the online enrolment or appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process.”

He observed that out of the 7,043,594 incomplete online pre-registrations, 4,161,775 citizens attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration instead.

Okoye added that 2,881,819 registrants completed the online pre-registration but did not show up to complete the physical biometric capture at designated centres before the deadline.

BESIDES, Heads of Department (HODs) in INEC have participated in a capacity building workshop on election management and monitoring ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The two-day event, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and which opened in Kano State, centered on improvement of the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) and review of the Election Management System (EMS).

UNDP Chief Technical Adviser for Elections, Deryck Fritz, harped on improving the EMSC for efficient planning and organisation, consistency and responsiveness with a view to minimising delays and building confidence of key political actors in the electoral process.

He spoke at the event with the theme: “Review of indicators and capacity building on Election Monitoring and Support Center (EMSC) Report Validation.”

He said INEC, as an entity entrusted with organising elections, cannot afford to be partial.

“The EMSC also assists with countering disinformation and building trust and credibility in the overall process. It is for this reason that UNDP has partnered with INEC, to support this series of workshops around the country.

“In line with SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, UNDP continues to support inclusive, transparent and credible electoral processes for peaceful and cohesive societies,” Fritz added.

The National Commissioner in charge of Planning Committee, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, said the capacity building initiative was timely, considering its focus on review of EMSC indicators and building on the capacity of HODs on EMSC report validation.

Gumus said the commission started implementation of the 2022-2026 strategic project plan, 2022 Electoral Act (as amended) and timelines of electoral activities for the 2023 general elections.

She explained that the EMSC has played a very important role in the off-cycle elections, engaging on prompt and proper reporting and validation.

Gumus expressed confidence that the training would provide the HODs a better understanding to perform their duties, as the commission enters the phase of preparation for the upcoming polls.

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