By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has explained its decision to harvest Voter Identification Numbers VIN from Permanent Voter Cards PVCs of Nigerians registered several years ago but are yet to collected their PVCs.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye in a statement on Wednesday said the commission had become aware of a video circulating on various social media platforms, showing some INEC staff at our FESTAC Town, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area Office, Lagos extracting Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) from Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and entering same into their cellphones.
The makers of the video had insinuated that they were doing this for the purpose of undermining the 2023 General Election.
However, INEC said the development was far from the truth.
“Actually, the video shows staff of the Commission harvesting VINs from PVCs, but only as part of an inventory of uncollected cards, provided for in the new Guidelines for the Management and Collection of PVCs, approved by the Commission for implementation nationwide”, said Okoye.
He said INEC in its determination to enhance the rate of collection of PVCs, the Commission decided to establish a PVC collection process that includes an online component.
The procedure entails that registered voters with access to the Internet could go to a dedicated portal to ascertain whether their PVCs are ready and to find their locations for subsequent collection.
“All they are required to do is to provide their details such as name, date of birth, state of registration or the last six digits of the VINs that they provided/received during registration, to locate their cards. This would improve the PVC collection process, but without prejudice to those who wish to go directly to the collection centres.
“For the newer PVCs, that is those from the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) that took place between January and July 2022, the VINs were harvested automatically and made available online. However, for the older uncollected PVCs that predate the new guidelines, their VINs must be harvested manually and painstakingly for upload to the PVC collection portal (www.voters.inecnigeria.org). The portal will also improve the records of the Commission regarding collected and uncollected PVCs”, he explained.
While the Commission appreciated the vigilance of Nigerians and their determination to see the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in 2023, INEC said it was exceedingly important that information such as contained in the said video is verified before sharing it with the public.
“A major threat to the upcoming general election comes from fake news and disinformation. The Commission appeals to Nigerians to remain conscious of this, even if the prior intention is worthy.
“Finally, we remind Nigerians that all uncollected PVCs will be available for collection at our 774 Local Government offices nationwide from 12th December 2022 to 5th January 2023. From 6th January to 15th January 2023, the cards will be made available for collection at the 8809 Registration Areas/Wards across the country in order to bring them closer to their owners.
“Subsequently, from 16th January to 22nd January 2023, collection shall revert to our Local Government offices. Meanwhile, the online facility will be available throughout the exercise to assist registered voters in locating their PVCs for collection”, the commission added.