Founder of Roots Television Nigeria and presidential candidate of the ADC, Dumebi Kachikwu, told journalists in Abuja that the INEC has no valid reasons to turn down suggestions of extending the deadline, adding that registration could go on two weeks before elections.
He said, “There is no reason why INEC shouldn’t extend the deadline. The excuses they are making are absolute rubbish. I have an IT background; people can register two weeks before the elections.
“It’s ‘Garbage In-Garbage Out,’ it’s what you feed into the system, what are they talking about. The problem is the government in power understands that when people register with passion like we are seeing right now, they know those people are coming with vengeance to vote them out, so they would do everything to discourage them from voting.
“We can see that from what’s happening in some centres, even in Abuja here. For the last four, five months some persons have not been able to register, where has it been reported? Go and fill the form, just try and register, you cannot.
“They do this intentionally, they know what’s going to happen in the next election, they don’t want more people to vote them out, and so they discourage it.”
On its part, the Nzuko Umunna in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Ngozi Odumuko, noted with concern that “with the current turnout of people who want to register in different states, if INEC goes ahead with its plan to suspend voter registration on June 30, 2022, a lot of the citizens will be left unregistered and therefore, disenfranchised during the 2023 elections.
“We therefore, call on INEC to as a matter of concern extend the deadline for continuous voter registration to enable all eligible Nigerians register and be able to vote during elections. We urge the Commission to ensure that all Nigerians who visit registration centres are given opportunity to register in all parts of the country where they reside no matter their tribe or religious affiliation as voting during elections is one of the civic obligations of every eligible citizen.”
VOTERS REGISTRATION: Reps mandate INEC to extend exercise by 60 days
AS hundreds of citizens struggle to get registered as voters across the country, the House of Representatives has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to extend the June 30 deadline for registration by 60 days.
The House of Representatives move came amid calls on INEC to extend the exercise by many groups including Presidential Candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Dumebi Kachikwu; and Igbo intellectual group, Nzuko Umunna.
The House of Representatives mandate to INEC to extend the voters registration exercise followed a motion by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who represents Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State.
The House also asked INEC to deploy additional staff and voters registration machines across the country.
According to Kalu, the ongoing CVR by the Commission would end on 30 June 2022, ahead of the 2023 general elections in February.
The essence, the House said, was to enable more Nigerians participate in the election.
Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act provides: “The registration of voters, updating and revision of the Register of Voters under this section shall stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by this Act.”
Kalu in his motion said: “The House also notes that the decision to suspend the voters’ registration is in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, which requires INEC to suspend voters’ registration at least 60 days before an election.
“The House is aware that in April 2022, INEC declared that about 42% of the voter registrations recorded since the commencement of Continuous Voters Registration on 28 June, 2021 was invalid with about 20 million unclaimed Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs.
“The House is cognizant of the large number of unregistered eligible voters willing to be registered as evidenced by the crowd seen at various registration centres resulting in congestion.
“The House is concerned by reports of shortages of voter registration machines, inadequate manpower and personnel at registration centres which may lead to frustrations among prospective registrants and in some cases, unrest at some registration centres.
“The House is also aware of calls from concerned citizens and civil societies urging INEC to extend the voters’ registration deadline to accommodate eligible voters desiring to register for their PVCs.
“The House is further aware that the right to vote is critically important to the health and legitimacy of our democracy, as well as electoral integrity.
“The House is also cognizant that if nothing is done to improve the shortage of voter registration equipment and extend the deadline for voters registration, millions of Nigerians will be disenfranchised thus jeopardizing the integrity of the 2023 general elections.”
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Electoral Matters to engage the Independent National Electoral Commission to examine and proffer solutions to the shortage of registration machines and manpower and deploy an additional 30 voter registration machines to each Local Government Area, train and deploy Ad-hoc staff to improve the shortage of manpower at registration centres, provide security for the ad-hoc staff.
The committee was asked to conclude the assignment and report back to the House within two weeks.