The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, said it discovered 1,390,519 invalid registrations in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR). Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during a press conference in Abuja, said this amounts to 45 per cent of the 2,523,458 completed registration.
“Presently, nearly 45 per cent of completed registrations nationwide are invalid, rising to as high as 60 per cent or more in some states. This infraction happened in all states of the federation. No state is immune from it. The invalid registrations will not be included in the register of voters,” he announced.
He said the figure was from completed registration, starting from June 2021 to January 14, 2022. The country is now in the fourth quarter of the CVR, which restarted on June 28, 2021, after it was suspended for the 2019 general elections.
Describing the development as worrisome, the INEC boss cited multiple registration, failure of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) and incomplete data as reasons for the invalid voter registrations.
Yakubu said while the number of new registrants is impressive, the Commission has a duty to clean up the data to ensure that only eligible Nigerians are registered.
He said: “Sadly, it seems that many registrants, either out of ignorance that they do not need to re-register if they had done so before, or a belief that our systems will not detect this infraction, have gone out to register again. This is despite repeated warnings by the Commission against this illegal action.
“In addition, there are also registrants whose data were incomplete and did not meet our Business Rules for inclusion in the register. Both categories that is the failure of ABIS and incomplete data constitute invalid registrations.
“This development is worrisome because of the time and resources expended in handling these cases.
Even more disturbing are 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.”
Yakubu also said about 1,390,519 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) for genuine new registrants have been printed, adding that 464,340 PVCs for verified applicants for transfer or replacement of cards have also been printed.
“Consequently, a total of 1,854,859 PVCs are now ready. They will be delivered to our state offices across the country over the Easter holiday. They will be available for collection by the actual owners in person immediately after the holiday. No PVC will be collected by proxy. I must reiterate that the available cards only cover those who registered in the first and second quarters of the exercise,” Yakubu stated.
Following the discovery, about 106,280 voters in Ekiti and Osun states have been disqualified due to invalid registration ahead of the governorship elections in the two states.
In Ekiti State, a total of 40,234 new voters were registered out of which 17,640 were voided, representing 43.9 per cent of the completed registrations, while in Osun State, 218,142 new registrations were completed, out of which 88,630 were invalidated, representing 40.6 per cent of the total number of new voters.
On political parties’ primaries, Yakubu maintained that the dates for all activities in the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections, including the conduct of party primaries remain fixed.
According to him, only 10 political parties have served notices to the Commission for the conduct of their primaries.
“With 52 days to the last day for the conduct of primaries, on June 3, political parties are once again admonished to adhere strictly to all dates in the timetable, including the nomination of their candidates via the INEC web portal.
“Such nominated candidates must emerge from valid primaries as provided in Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022. This is necessary to avoid the unhappy consequences of any breach of the Commission’s timetable or the Electoral Act,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Anglican Bishop of Nike Diocese in Enugu State, Most Rev. Christian Onyia, yesterday, reminded eligible voters that INEC will count votes and not prayer points in 2023. Addressing a pre-Synod media briefing, Onyia admonished eligible voters yet to obtain PVCs to do so speedily as the 2023 elections draw near.
He stressed that it was only the card that would enable voters to exercise their franchise and elect leaders of their choice.