By Omeiza Ajayi
In a bid to further ensure the fidelity of the register of voters to be used for the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has entered into partnership with the Nigerian Immigration Service NIS to assist with the identification of non-Nigerians who might have gotten their names into the register during the ongoing nationwide Voter Registration exercise.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, accompanied by National Commissioners made the request when he paid a courtesy visit on the Comptroller Genetal of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, in Abuja.
Yakubu appreciated the NIS for supporting the Commission in identifying foreigners on the voters register in 26 states of the federation in 2017. He said, “the Service wrote the Commission, forwarding confiscated Voter cards retrieved from aliens who illegally registered before the last general elections under the pretext that they were Nigerians. The total number of such cards retrieved so far is 299 from 26 states of the federation and the FCT”.
Speaking further, he said; “as we approach the 2019 general elections, the cleaning up of the voter register is a priority for the Commission. We believe that your service which has already demonstrated willingness to partner with the Commission will be of immense assistance in this respect”.
He explained that the law was clear on categories of persons ineligible for registration as voters. “Those below the statutory age of 18 years, aliens, persons registered in absentia, those barred by statute or regulations from registering as voters and those who do not ordinarily reside, work or originate from the areas covered by particular registration exercise are ineligible to register as voters under the law”.
He hinted that the Commission would display the register of citizens who recently registered in the ongoing exercise between the 26th and the 30th of March 2018, for registrants to check for corrections at all registration centres nationwide and called on the NIS to deploy its personnel to assist in identifying aliens on the list. “We hope that you will assist us by deploying your men to as many of them as possible to help us identify any aliens who may have registered in the ongoing registration exercise”, he said.
In his response, the Comptroller General of the NIS, Muhammad Babandede said the Service was ready to continue to partner with INEC in the discharge of its duties.