By Dayo Badmus,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally reacted to the discrepancies in data across its voters’ register.
The commission published on its website the preliminary register of voters’ polling units for the 2023 elections.
Following the register’s release, Nigerians on social media have displayed snapshots of voters who appeared to have been registered multiple times. In some cases, a couple of names had no pictures.
Others had shared screenshots of underage persons and multiple registrations, amongst others, found on the register, accusing the commission of showing bias in favour of the North in the cleanup of the register following the conclusion of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
Speaking about the development, Festus Okoye, the INEC Commissioner for Voter Education, said the electoral umpire was collecting details of ineligible persons identified through objections raised by members of the public and would review and expunge same from the register.
Okoye further maintained that INEC’s display of the register was to enable Nigerians to scrutinize it and make claims about misspellings of names, personal details, or missing names and to also “raise objections about the presence of ineligible persons, for example, those below the age of 18 years, dead persons, foreigners, or those making false claims so that they can be deleted from the register in line with the Commission’s established rules.”
He added, “So far, the Commission has been harvesting the online claims and objections. We will do the same for the manual process. At the end of the exercise, all claims and objections made will be addressed. In this way, citizens are contributing to the strengthening of our electoral process.
“It is therefore in the foregoing context that recent media reports on the presence of ineligible registrants in the register should be seen. The full display of all registrants speaks to the Commission’s commitment to transparency. The fact that these likely ineligible registrants arc being identified means that the objectives of the display for claims and objections are being met.
“We implore the public to follow the procedures and report these objections for the necessary action of the Commission. In addition, the Commission cannot rule out infractions by its registration officials in allowing these ineligible persons into the register in the first place. Therefore, each confirmed case of infraction will be thoroughly investigated and culpable officials will be disciplined.”
INEC’s Committed To Transparency And Accountability
“We hope that at the end of the exercise, the Commission, with the involvement of citizens, would have improved the quality of the Register of Voters, which is the bedrock of a successful election. Nigerians should note that perfecting the register is a continuous and painstaking process over time.
“Indeed, the presently displayed register contains all the voters dating back to the registration of 2011, not just the recent exercise. That some of these likely ineligible entries are being found presently confirms the Commission’s position that the best way to make the voters’ register more robust is for Nigerians to continue to scrutinise it and, more importantly, make their claims and objections for its improvement. We thank Nigerians for their sustained cooperation for the growth of our democracy,” he said.
The commission said following the display of the voters’ register, “a hearing of claims and objections by citizens for disposal action” will be held.
“This is the first time that the Commission would be doing so and further underscores our commitment to applying technology to improve the electoral process,” Okoye concluded.