By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has dismissed speculations that over 10 million fresh registrants may have been added to the current voters’ register by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in an effort to manipulate next year’s general elections.
National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye, in a statement, said the commission is still in the process of cleaning up fresh registration data obtained during the last Continuous Voter Registration, CVR.
The Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, had at a news conference displayed extracts of the National Voters’ register, which it claimed were part of at least 10 million fake registrations done by the APC.
It said the names were sourced from both within and outside Nigeria including some African countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Togo, Guinea, Gambia and countries outside Africa including Jamaica, Brazil and New Zealand.
However, Okoye recalled that on July 31 2022, the Commission suspended the CVR to commence supplemental activities that will culminate in the integration of new registrants into the final Register of Voters for the 2023 general elections.
He said: “it is important to reiterate that no new registrant has 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.”
Okoye added that in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, after the ABIS and cleanup, 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.
“It is only after the cleanup and claims and objections have been completed that the final register will be published.
The Commission will continue to provide the public with updates on the progress of these processes, as we did through our Press Release of September 12 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 added.