From Emmanuel Iyoho
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has refuted claims that the commission denied over seven million Nigerians the opportunity to complete their online pre-registration during the Continuous Voter Registration, even as the commission also dismisses claims that foreigners are on the country’s voter register.
National commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Festus Okoye, in a statement on Monday said Nigerians were given enough time to complete their registrations, noting that the deployment of technologies was to ease the registration process and described the claims as misleading.
The commissioner also stated that the commission provided weekly statistical updates on the exercise for transparency sake.
The statement read, “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 Continuous Voter Registration were denied the opportunity to complete their registration and consequently the collection of their Permanent Voters Cards. This claim is misleading.
“To set the record straight, Nigerians may recall that on 28th June 2021, the commission introduced the online pre-registration of voters. By doing so, citizens were given the opportunity to commence the registration online and then book 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 centresto complete the process.
He added, “A breakdown of the 7,043,594 incomplete online pre-registrations is as follows: 4,161,775 citizens attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration instead.
Recall that INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre representing just 32.8 per cent of the completed online registration.
Pioneer Politics reports that 24 Nigerians 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.”
In the meantime, Mr. Okoye has dismissed claims that foreigners were on the country’s voter register, saying even though he said INEC recognizes the right of citizens to hold the commission accountable.
He said, “It is important to reiterate that no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.”
He assured Nigerians about the credibility of the election process and that all ineligible records will be detected for removal.
“We appeal to the public to await the commission’s display of the register for claims and objections to raise any concerns that they may have about the registration. We reiterate that our ABIS is robust and will detect practically all the ineligible records for removal.
“Nigerians should be reassured of the commission’s commitment to the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria. We appeal for your support while we painstakingly deal with the cleanup of the register and other processes that will guarantee that the general election in 2023 is free, fair, credible, and inclusive,” he added.
It could be recalled that the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) had claimed that there was a plot to compromise the forthcoming 2023 elections.
According to the spokesman of the coalition, Mr IkengaUgochinyere, “Significant among the discoveries in the register is the fact that the majority of the foreign names were all born in 1983 despite whether their photographs showed they were old or young.”