The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has observed a remarkable improvement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it concerns the just ended Permanent Voters Card distribution exercise conducted in 12 States of Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta, Cross River, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The exercise, originally slated for August 15th to 17th was extended by two days as a result of protests by some members of rights based CSOs and other electoral stakeholders in Nigeria including our organization (Intersociety). The exercise finally ended on Tuesday, August 19th 2014 with substantial improvement on the part of INEC. We wish to commend INEC for this appreciable feat and demand for more improvements in other spheres of its electoral industry.
From our field observation and other credible open source accounts, INEC field officers conducted themselves well and carried out their given assignment diligently. A number of host State Governments also played commendable complimentary roles especially in the areas of creation of public awareness and provision of INEC sanctioned logistics supports. The most striking thing about INEC’s field officers’ diligent conduct was lowering of conditions for obtaining the PVC as well as friendly disposition towards PVC applicants. For instance, those that lost their temporary voter’s cards but have their data intact in the INEC’s voters’ register, were simply asked to come with recent passport photograph and made to fill relevant forms, after which their PVCs were released to them. This is a clear departure from what it used to be in the past whereby the affected citizens had to go through hellish conditions.
On the other hand, INEC did not provide concrete answers or solutions to those with missing names who have their “TVCs” (temporary voter’s cards) intact. They went and left registration centers disappointed. On the part of “attentive public” (particularly rights and media groups, etc), most of them went to bed waiting for “poll day monitoring exercise”, which is usually lucrative and externally sponsored. In other words, their advocacy and monitoring involvement was at its lowest ebb. On the part of “mass public”, there was an appreciable participatory improvement in all the qualified segments with the civil service cadre of the “mass public” taking the lead, followed by qualified students cadre and artisans/traders. Artisans/traders participation or compliance improved from 30%/40% to 60% judging from previous PVC exercises in the country. In other words, about 30% of the PVCs belonging to living registered voters are yet to be collected in areas dominated by traders/artisans while the remaining 10% may most likely belong to “unknown registered voters” including the dead, the aged, those with missing names and those maliciously imported from other States and areas by desperate politicians during the main exercise in 2011.
In some Local Government Areas with bloated and bogus registered voters, the number of unclaimed PVCs is very high. For instance in Idemmili North LGA of Anambra, which claims to have over 180, 000 registered voters out of Anambra’s total of 1, 776, 167 registered voters; the number of unclaimed PVCs is most likely to be high because the LGA was at the center of accusation as one of the leading areas with bogus registered voters. The Independent National Electoral Commission has a mandatory post PVC and CRV duty of making the Nigerian public and other stakeholders in the country’s electoral industry to know updated number of living, dead and fictitious/fake registered voters in the country including those scattered in States, LGAs, and wards and polling units.
In other words, Nigerians would expect satisfactory and scientific answers from INEC to the following questions: What is the total number of living registered voters before the PVC/CVR exercises of 2014? How many registered voters have died before the two exercises including those killed by Boko Haram and Fulani insurgencies? What is the total number of post 2014 PVC and CVR registered voters in the country including those newly captured in the TVL (temporary voters list)? How many voters were registered in the 2014 CVR? What is the total number of dead voters including victims of insurgency/violent homicide? How many registered voters collected their PVCs in the 2014 exercise? What is the total number of unclaimed PVCs (permanent voter’s cards)? And what is the fate of the unclaimed PVCs (including their custody/whereabouts)? Answers to these graphic questions will assist the Commission in turning out better and credible NRVs (National Register of Voters) for Nigeria and Nigerians devoid of roguery and crooked demography. All the names of the dead, fake or fictitious voters must be deleted the National Register of Voters; after which there should be public display and breakdown of the updated statistics State by State, LGA by LGA, Ward by Ward and Polling Unit/Booth by Polling Unit/Booth.
As the CVR (Continuous Voters Registration) exercise commences in the 12 affected States and the FCT today (20/08/2014), we wish to renew our call on the INEC to deploy adequate personnel and machines in all the registration centers in the country. The Commission should devise measures to cushion the effects and difficulties that will hinder easy and accessible registration of unregistered eligible voters. These measures will include extension of time marked out for the exercise (five days: 20th to 25th August), creation of more and closer registration centers and post CVR exercise continuous registration at designated and limited centers. The Commission should also resolve satisfactorily the issue of “missing names” as in whether those affected will be recaptured in the ongoing CVR exercise as “new registered voters”. If this is the case, then the Commission must trace their previous data from its data bank and get them erased. There is important need for the Commission to improve in the area of “transfer of voter’s cards” and subsequent erasure of the applicants’ previous data from the Commission’s data bank. Section 13 (4) of the Electoral Act of the Federation 2010, which requires the Commission to delete the previous data of successful voter’s cards transferees has continued to be observed in total breach.
Finally, we renew our call on those that just turned 18 years of age and others who were unable to register in the previous registration exercises to ensure that they are captured in the ongoing registration taking place in the 12 States and the FCT under reference, it is important to remind them that failure to get registered is a fundamental violation of Section 24 (e-f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 particularly as it regards to “constitutional duties or responsibilities of the citizens”. It is also a self denial of fundamental human rights of rights to vote and participate in the public governance and affairs of the country. It is our hope that these suggested measures and successes recorded so far by the Commission will maximally be applied in the third phase of the two important exercises scheduled to hold on dates to be fixed by the Commission in the States of Katsina, Kano, Plateau, Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Rivers, Ogun, Edo and Lagos.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
*Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
+2348100755939 (office only)
+2348100755939 (office only)
* Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
* Chiugo Onyekachi Onwuatuegwu, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program