By Chimezie Godfrey
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reiterated its commitment to ensure that no new registrant is added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election until the supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye said this in a statement made available to Newsdiaryonline on Thursday.
Okoye noted that the attention of the Commission has been drawn to a report of a press conference addressed by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on the Register of Voters for the 2023 general election.
He stressed that the Commission recognizes and respects the right of citizens, either as individuals and groups, to demand explanation from public agencies, including INEC, and to hold them accountable.
He however, said that it is always important that caution is exercised so that such interventions do not unwittingly sow doubts in the public mind, thereby diminishing public confidence and trust in the electoral process.
Okoye recalled that on 31st July 2022, the Commission suspended the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to commence supplemental activities that will culminate in the integration of new registrants into the final Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election.
He therefore assured that no new registrant would be included in voters’ register until the supplemental activities have been completed.
He said,”It important to reiterate that no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we restate the main components of these activities. First, the Commission is conducting a comprehensive Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) cleanup of the registration data by scrutinising every record. Based on the Electoral Act 2022, any record that does not meet all the criteria for inclusion as stipulated in Section 10, including the appearance in person by the registrant at the registration venue with proof of identity, age and nationality and our business rules requirements of adequate number of fingerprints and clear pictures will be invalidated.
“Further, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, after the ABIS and clean up, the Commission shall appoint a period of seven days during which the register will be published for scrutiny by the public for objections and complaints.
“Finally, it is only after the cleanup and claims and objections have been completed that the final register will be published.
Okoye assured that the Commission will continue to provide the public with updates on the progress of these processes, “as we did through our Press Release of 12 September 2022.
“The ABIS for the period of registration between 15th January and 31st July is being concluded presently, and the outcome in terms of multiple and ineligible records will be made public.
“For instance, in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, where the Commission allegedly registered ineligible persons, 3,316 ineligible registrants have so far been invalidated and the process is still ongoing.
“We appeal to the public to await the Commission’s display of the register for claims and objections to raise any concerns that they may have about the registration. We reiterate that our ABIS is robust and will detect practically all the ineligible records for removal.”
He assured Nigerians of the Commission’s commitment to the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria. “We appeal for your support while we painstakingly deal with the cleanup of the register and other processes that will guarantee that the general election in 2023 is free, fair, credible and inclusive,” he said.