IT is gratifying to note that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, headquarters has accepted the challenge of probing the alleged underage voters scandal, videos of which went viral after the recent local government polls in Kano State.
Chairman of the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, KSIEC, Professor Garba Sheka, had expressed his Commission’s readiness to cooperate in any investigation of the incident. Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the National Chairman of INEC quickly empanelled the eight-man committee led by Abubakar Nahuche, an engineer, to “ascertain if the voter register requested by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, KSIEC, was actually used in the election,” and make any other recommendations towards unravelling the affront to our democracy.
Confusion arose following the broadcast of the videos showing scores of children well under ten queuing to vote in the election. INEC’s spokesman, Oluwole Osaze- Uzzi, had distanced the Commission from it, blaming the KSIEC and adding that the Commission has no power to conduct local government elections.
At a public function however, the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Mr Mohammed Garba, reported that the pictures and videos of the underage voters were captured during the 2015 elections which incidentally brought President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and other currently serving elected officials to power.
All these disclosures make the investigation even more crucial because if it is credibly conducted, it will unravel a lot of truths hitherto hidden about the fidelity of our elections in the past and present, with a view to correcting them in the general elections which come up a year from now.
This issue might even necessitate an indepth probe on the circumstances leading to the death of the Kano State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Mukaila Abdullahi, who after conducting the 2015 polls perished along with his family in a mystery fire which the police blamed on electric surge.
We call on the National Assembly, the media, civil society groups and the general public to keenly track this probe and ensure that the whole truth about it is unravelled to maintain the integrity of our electoral process and bring justice to those who might have been injured or cheated.