By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
AS the Continuous Voters Registration, VCR, exercise ends Sunday, July 30 across the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said yesterday that there would be no further extension so as to enable the Commission carry out other functions ahead of the 2023 general elections.
This came as the various registration centers were besieged by registrants who tried to beat the deadline.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of publicity and voter education and the supervising National Commissioner for Anambra, Abia and Benue states, Chief Festus Okoye, who spoke with journalists at the Anambra State headquarters of INEC, said there was no way the exercise would not come to an end as the Commission is also involved in other activities ahead of the general elections.
He said: “You are fully aware that 30th of June, 2022 was the terminal date for the CVR, but the commission extended the date to 31st July, 2023, a period of one month.
“The CVR cannot go on ad infinitum. It has to be terminated at a certain point in time and so, the commission has decided to terminate it tomorrow ( today), 31st of July.
“This is to enable us have the time to clean up the double and multiple registrations. We have to do this before the 2023 elections so as to have a clean voters register.
“The Electoral Act 2022 mandates INEC to display the voters register in the 744 local government areas of the country and in the 8809 registration areas for claims and objections. Thereafter, we have to print the voters cards of all the registrants and get them to come and collect their PVCs.
“The voters registration is not the only function the commission performs. It is also involved in the procurement of items in readiness for the 2023 elections.
“If the commission continues with the CVR, it will do a lot of damage to our other activities and we cannot afford to do that.”
On the allegation that some politicians were buying up PVCs from their owners, Okoye said there is nothing INEC could do about it, even as he vehemently condemned the action, which he termed ‘voter suppression’.
He added: “We don’t have security personnel that will be going round to find out who has sold his PVC or who has not. Our duty is to organize and supervise elections.
“Even if anybody bought PVCs, they will be useless on election day because the data of each registered voter in Nigeria is not stored in the PVC, but is resident in the BVAS.
“So, if you come to the voting unit on election day with a voters card that does not belong to you, the name of the owner will appear. Also, your fingerprint will not match and the BVAS will reject you, which shows that the person is involved in identity theft.”
He said that since the commission had abolished the incidence form, bringing someone else’s voters card to the polling unit would be completely useless.
He observed that the registration exercise slowed down in the South East geopolitical zone because of security challenges, adding however that the commission devised measures to cope with the surge.
He said that a total of 277767 persons completed the registration exercise in Anambra State as at July 25, 2922, with 133009 being fresh registrants.
Also, according to him, there were 3601 transfers, 1423 updates and 11533 replacements, while only seven persons with disabilities were registered.