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2023: Registered voters now 93.5m – INEC

Mahmood Yakubu 1

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday said following the its cleaning up of newly registered voters, the remaining 9,518,188 new voters have been added to  existing register of 84,004,084 voters to bring it to 93,522,272 million voters.

INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu stated this at the third quarterly meeting with political parties at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

He said, so far, the commission had identified 23 registration officers involved in this unethical conduct and that disciplinary action against them had commenced in earnest.  

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The INEC boss, while cautioning the political parties against violence and depriving opponents of public facilities in their domain, said, “the commission will continue to track the campaigns and will not hesitate to initiate the prosecution of violators as provided by law.”

The INEC chairman said: “The preliminary register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a general election. 

“Accordingly, in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law. 

“The commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards. In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. 

“We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards.

“We are also making a steady progress in other critical areas of preparation for the election, including the provision of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, the recruitment of staff and planning for the movement of personnel and materials for the election. 

“The commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. 

“Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated e-mail assigned to a staff. There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each official involved in the registration exercise. In some case, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter. 

“As a result, the commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

“Last week, the commission cautioned political parties, candidates and their supporters to eschew violence during the electioneering campaign. 

“The statement was necessary against the background of clashes among supporters of different political parties, including allegations of denial of access to public facilities and the destruction of billboards and other outdoor campaign materials by acts of thuggery. 

“The campaigns have just begun. As party leaders, you should remain committed to peaceful electioneering. We will continue to work together to remove encumbrances to the right of parties and candidates to freely canvass for the support of the electorate. The commission will continue to track the campaigns and will not hesitate to initiate the prosecution of violators as provided by law.”