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CVR: Many registrants left are diasporans -INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has disclosed why some of the seven million eligible voters were unable to complete the Continuous Voter Registration process.

INEC recently revealed that, of the 10,487,972 Nigerians who pre-registered online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre.

Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Electoral Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, told our correspondent on Tuesday that the majority of those who were unable to complete the registration were Nigerians in diaspora.

Okoye thus absolved the Commission of any wrongdoing, claiming that the majority of the affected registrants could not have appeared in person because they were based abroad.

Okoye, therefore, absolved the Commission of any wrong doing, saying the majority of the affected registrants could not have been able to appear in person as they were based in abroad.

He said INEC was ready to avail data relating to online registration to various groups or individuals accusing the Commission of disenfranchising the said seven million registrants from voting in the forthcoming 2023 general election.

He also urged groups to take out time to understand the processes and procedures of the Commission.

Okoye was reacting to the letter of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project dated August 13, 2022 and signed by the group Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, asking INEC to allow seven million registrants complete the CVR or face legal action.

According to SERAP, denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters.”

“The failure of the applicants to complete their registration may be due to factors entirely outside of their control, especially given the well-documented challenges faced by many Nigerians at registration centers across the country.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and the affected Nigerians shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.”

Clearing INEC of any wrong doing, Okoye explained that the seven million registrants that SERAP alluded to were some in the diaspora and could not meet the legal requirements and threshold of physical biometric capture as mandatorily provided for in section 10(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.

He also said some registrants started the online pre-registration and abandoned same and proceeded to carry out physical registration.

He noted, “SERAP filed a suit before the Federal High Court Abuja seeking an order of court compelling the Commission to continue with the CVR 90 days to the Presidential and National Assembly Election. The Federal High Court dismissed their suit and affirmed the constitutional and legal right of the Commission to register voters, update the voters register and revise the register of voters. The court affirmed the right of the Commission to fix terminal dates for the suspension of the CVR.

“The registration of voters is a serious and fundamental national assignment. It affirms and reaffirms the sovereign right of the applicant to a stake in the voters roll and ultimately to exercise his or her democratic franchise. This accounts for the activation of the online and physical platforms by the Commission. The CVR lasted for one year and was extended by an additional 31 days.

“The Commission gave eligible Nigerians that showed up the opportunity to register. During the period of surge, the Commission deployed additional IVED machines, Thermal Printers and Fingerprint Scanners to some of the States of the federation. The Commission also deployed additional resources and personnel to obviate the surge.”

Okoye added, “SERAP should approach the Commission and properly and comprehensively understand the processes and procedures of the Commission. Their conclusive assertion of the existence of seven million disenfranchised registrants is a product of poor understanding of the processes and procedures of the Commission. The Commission is ready and willing to avail them of the data relating to online registration if they avail themselves of the option of engagement.

“The seven million individuals they alluded to are some of those that are in diaspora and could not meet the legal requirements and threshold of physical biometric capture as mandatorily provided in section 10(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.

“Some of the seven million started the online pre-registration and abandoned same and proceeded to carry out physical registration.”

He further stated that the Commission was presently carrying out adjudication and cleaning up the register preparatory to the display for claims and objections.

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